Every year, on 30 and 31 January, artists and craftsmen from Valle d’Aosta proudly display their works along the streets of Aosta town centre.
In the Middle Ages, the Fair took place in the “Borgo di Aosta”, the area surrounding the Collegiate Church that bears the name of Sant’Orso. Legend has it that it all began opposite the church, where the Saint, who lived earlier than the 9th century, apparently used to help the poor by giving out clothes and “sabot”, the typical wooden clogs visitors can still find at the Fair today. These days the whole of the town centre is involved in the event, which takes place both inside and outside the Roman walls.
All of the traditional activities are represented: sculpture and inlay on wood, soapstone, wrought iron and leather working, weaving of drap, a traditional woollen fabric on old-style wooden looms, lace, wicker, household objects, wooden ladders, casks, etc…
The exhibitors are driven to attend the Fair not so much for the commercial aspect but rather to leave their workshops and make contact with an audience who appreciates the quality and creativity of their work, the result of traditions with age-old roots. Likewise those who go to the Fair are not just looking for a “good buy”, maybe useful for everyday purposes, or a top quality item to decorate their homes, but rather to “breathe” a unique and unrepeatable ambiance.
The Fair of Sant’Orso is not only a celebration of the creativity and industriousness of mountain people, but also a great popular event during which the peculiar characteristics of the identity of Valle d’Aosta’s population are revealed.
A visit to the Fair is an extraordinary, unforgettable, intensely emotional experience, because the craftsmen present are here less for commercial reasons than out of a desire to venture outside their workshops in search of contact with visitors able to appreaciate creativity and quality craftsmanship, deriving from a tradition stretching back centuries. Likewise, visitors come here not just in search of a bargain, or a useful, everyday object or something to adorn their home, but also to revel in the unique atmosphere.
During the fair it is possible to visit the Atelier, where objects from various craft categories are exposed and even on sale.
The Fair is also about music, folklore and a chance to taste the traditional gourmet products and wines.
In the food and wine pavilion you can taste the typical flavours of the Aosta Valley and local street food: dishes prepared with excellent local products by some of the exposing companies.
At the Fair information points you will also find the menus of the Aosta restaurants preparing local typical dishes.
The high point of this popular festival is the Veillà, on the night between 30 and 31 January, with the streets all lit up and full of people until dawn.
How to get here
By public transportation (the railway station and bus station are just steps from the fair). To visit the fair, follow the signs for pedestrians or contact the info points along the fair route.
By train: from Turin (via Ivrea) and Milan (via Chivasso). For information: Trenitalia tel. 0165 239541.
By bus: from Milan, Martigny and Valais, Savoy.
For information: Bus station tel. 0165 262027.
By car: use the free guarded car parks in the outskirts of the city, indicated along access roads. A free shuttle service runs with continuous routes to the Fair. A “loop” shuttle service units the two opposite entrances of the Fair (Arco d’Augusto – Piazza della Repubblica) with a stop at the railway station.
Note - this information is not directly connected to the Cammino Balteo path but it is part of the Aosta Valley tourist offer.