Every Tuesday and Saturday mornings there is a Mercato Contadino (farmer’s market) along the banks of the Ellero River. The old marketplace fills with local vendors selling fresh produce and specialty foods from nearby farms. At the market you will find artisanal cheeses like Raschera, Castelmagno, Murazzano and Bra; organic raw butter and honey; heirloom fruits and vegetables; fresh porcini mushrooms; hazelnuts and chestnuts. From September through December local trifulé (truffle hunters) gather in a corner of the market to sell both white and black truffles which are common in the Monregalese. The bustling Saturday farmers’ market is a popular meeting place where you are more likely to hear the Piemontese language spoken rather than Italian.
For a real taste of local life, find a table on the patio of the Pasticceria-Bar Comino and watch the rhythms of Mondovì pass before you. Comino is a local institution and is famous for its specialty pastries and sweets. Be sure and try some typical Monregalese treats such as Paste di Meliga (sweet cornmeal cookies), Bignole (small puff pastries creme fillings like hazelnut, gianduia, pistachio, etc.), Risole (small flaky pastries with jam fillings) and Cupete (hazelnuts, walnuts and honey between two thin wafers).
In shops all over Mondovì you will find hand-made ceramics on display for sale. In the early 19th century Mondovì developed as an important center for the production of earthenware ceramics. More than a dozen manufacturers opened factories in the Monregalese as the demand for ceramics grew. Over the years, a traditional design emerged called Vecchia Mondovì which features a colorful rooster with a traditional blue lace border. Today, only one company, Vedova Besio & Figlio, is still in production using their original designs from 1842. A museum, Museo della Ceramica, opened recently in the centro storico to house an extensive permanent collection of ceramics from throughout the Monregalese.
For visitors to the Langhe who are looking to experience a slice of real Piemontese life, Mondovì is the perfect destination. Virtually tourist-free, its charming medieval streets are waiting to be explored. The people of the Monregalese are proud of their culture and traditions and they are always enthusiastic to share their outstanding cuisine, and of course, their great wine and cheese.
* Thank you to Renè D for his kind permission to include his beautiful aerial photo of Piazza Maggiore