This weekend there is more than skiing to draw you to the Aosta Valley. Aosta is an old Roman town in northwestern Italy with a dramatic mountain backdrop that includes the spectacular Monte Bianco (Mont Blanc), Cervinia (the Matterhorn) and Monte Rosa. Starting about the year 1000 the Fiera di Sant’Orso was created to honor an Irish monk who began distributing clothing and sabot (wooden shoes) to the poor. Today the tradition continues with over 1,000 artisans and stands distributed throughout the town the final weekend of January.
Early morning until late at night on Saturday and Sunday artisans will display intricate wood carvings, sculptures baskets, ceramics and other forms of fine & folk art. Though this festival has been a showcase for the wood carving craftsment that display their wares, there is also a food and wine tent showcasing every local delicacy you can imagine: cheese, meat, jams, wines and more. The specialty “L’Atelier” tent has over 80 vendors selling a wide variety clothing, furnishings and housewares.
At night, stroll the streets while sipping warm, mulled wine and listening to spontaneous folk music and singing. Participate in some local food tastings or buy a grolla and share it with friends. La grolla is essentially a friendship cup; it’s carved out of wood, has 2, 4, 6 or 8 spouts and is intended to be filled with coffee, grappa and sugar. You might be able to spot one of these in use at a rifugio on the mountain or during apres ski. Buy one from a wood artisan and take it home with you, the perfect souvenir to bring with you to your next party.
Piazza Chanoux at Night: Roberto Cilenti via Foter.com / CC BY-ND
Sabot Wooden Shoes: Fiore S. Barbato via Foter.com / CC BY-SA
Wood Carving – Woman: FlavioSuffredini.com via Foter.com / CC BY
Wood Carving – Horse: FlavioSuffredini.com via Foter.com / CC BY
La Grolla: Fiore S. Barbato via Foter.com / CC BY-SA