In 2020, the Sant’Orso fair celebrated its 1020th edition, with more than a thousand craftsmen displaying their works in the streets of the ancient neighbourhood on 30 and 31 January. The two-day celebrations attract hundreds of thousands of visitors.
The Sant’Orso Fair is a celebration of the creative, industrious nature of the mountain folk, and the characteristic identity of the people of the Aosta valley is evident in this popular event.
In the Middle Ages, the fair was held in the Borgo di Aosta 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 before the 9th century, used to help the poor by giving out clothing and “sabots”, the typical wooden clogs you 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 city walls.
All of the traditional local activities are represented: sculpture and wood carving, objects crafted in soapstone, wrought iron, leather and drap (a traditional woollen fabric woven on traditional wooden looms), lace, wicker, household objects, wooden ladders, casks for wine, etc…
All this makes a visit to the Sant’Orso Fair an extraordinary, unforgettable, intensely emotional experience. What brings the craftsmen here is not so much the chance to do business as a desire to venture out of their workshops in search of contact with visitors able to appreciate their creativity and quality workmanship, deriving from a tradition stretching back centuries. Likewise, visitors come here not just in search of a useful, everyday object or a fine ornament to adorn their home, but also to revel in the unique atmosphere of the fair.
The Sant’Orso Fair also features music, folklore and a chance to taste the typical wines and local food specialties of the Aosta Valley.
In the food and wine pavilion, visitors can sample the Region’s typical food and farming produce.
The high point of this popular festival is the “Veillà”, on the night between 30 and 31 January, during which the streets of the town centre are all lit up and packed with people until dawn.