Sant'Orso Fair - Aosta, 30 and 31st January
The Sant'Orso Fair is first and foremost a great popular event, an anthem to creativity and to the industrious nature of mountain folk. Every year, a thousand exhibitors, including artists and craftsmen from the Valle d'Aosta, proudly, and with legitimate satisfaction, present the fruits of their toil, performed as a hobby or as a genuine production activity, yet strictly along the lines of a small craft industry. All the traditional activities are featured: wood carving and sculpting, processing of soapstone, wrought iron and leather, "drap" weaving, wool cloth woven on ancient wooden looms, and then lace, wicker, household items, wooden ladders, casks... It is not so much the purely commercial side that makes exhibitors want to take part in the Fair but rather the desire to get out of the workshop and get in touch with a public that knows how to appreciate quality work and creativity, the fruit of traditions that
have centuries-old roots. Equally, those who visit the Fair don't do it merely in search of a good bargain, that may come in handy in everyday chores, or a quality item to adorn their home, but rather to "breathe" a unique and unrivalled atmosphere. The Fair is also the time when the particular characteristics of the identity of the people from the Valle d'Aosta are on display: it is not just an exceptionally grand and colourful "festival", but also the celebration of being a part of one's historical and cultural environment. This event, that highlights the best of craftsmanship skills in the Valle d'Aosta, is repeated every year along the city streets. During the Middle Ages, the Fair was held in the Town of Aosta, in the area surrounding the Sant'Orso Collegiate. Legendary tales say that it all began right opposite the Church where the Saint, who lived before the 9th century, was said to have regularly given clothes
and "sabot" to the poor. "Sabot" are the typical wooden clogs which are still exhibited at the Fair today. These days, the entire city centre is involved in the event, within and beside the Roman city walls. The Fair is also a time for music and folklore and an occasion to taste the local food and wine, with a genuine popular fete, the highlight of which is the "Veillà", the festive vigil during the night between 30th and 31st January, when the streets are lit and filled with people until dawn. A visit to the Sant'Orso Fair is a unique, unforgettable experience, truly not to be missed and to be enjoyed with intense emotions.