The Fair: The Podestà's investiture
On the last Saturday of September, the first of the three folkloric events of the Truffle Fair takes place: the Podestà's Investiture, which will be followed by the Donkey Race (the first Sunday of October) and the historic enactment (third Sunday of October).
The protagonist of the ceremony is the Podestà, the highest civilian officer within the medieval city, and the Lady of Alba, allegorical figure traditionally dressed in white and red enamels representing the city, whose interpreter is chosen from the last winner borough of the Donkey Race. They receive the homage and the act of submission of the nine boroughs represented by rulers, banners and noble pairs.
The Investiture of the Podestà has become for the groups of musicians and flagweavers of the different borough one of the most important events of the Truffle Fair. To pay homage to the Podestà, in fact, each group perform choreographies, music and numbers prepared for the occasion for weeks or months.
During the event is recalled an episode reported by the medieval chronicler Guiglielmo Ventura dating back to August 10, 1275, the day of San Lorenzo, patron of the City of Alba,
"Post haec Astenses venerunt Albam ad Sanctum Frontanianum, et eorum vineas et arbores vastaverunt, et prope eorum portas palius Astensis cursus fuit, sicut fieri solet Ast in festo beati Secundi, et hoc fuit in festo beati Laurencii. Anno Domini MCCLXXV."
"After these things, the people from Asti came to Alba in San Frontiniano, devastated their vineyards and the trees, and near their doors ran the Asti’s Race, as people from Asti use to do it in their city in the San Secondo feast, and this was at the recurrence of Blessed Lorenzo. Year 1275."
Guglielmo Ventura, Memorial (Chapter X)
Alba’s citizens informed the Podestà of the devastations carried out by the enemy within the territory of the City of Alba and of the horse race given by them under the walls of the city. He therefore invites the people of the borough to organize a race to run on the following Sunday, not with horses but with donkeys, mocking Asti’s race.