The Festival of Sant’Orso has a history of over one thousand years. According to tradition, “La Foire” – or ‘Fèira de Sènt-Or’ in the local dialect – was first held in the year 1000, when the collegiate church in the medieval city center of Aosta was dedicated to Saint Ursus.
The Irish-origin monk is a beloved saint in all of the Aosta Valley. Although little is known for sure about his life – except for the day of his death, which was on February 1, 529 – local folk tradition has preserved the image of a humble man who befriended the poor, giving them wooden shoes (the traditional ‘sabot’ from the Aosta Valley) and wine from his small vineyard.
In his memory, every year on January 30 and 31, the city center fills with music and endless stands offering a taste of local food, wine, or showcasing the typical artifacts from the Alpine region: ‘grolle’ (a special wooden drinking cup, with a lid and a variable number of spouts), cradles, furniture, flatware, farming tools, and much more.
The highlight of the festival is the so-called ‘veillà’, that is the vigil beginning on the evening of January 30: a folk tradition during which broth and mulled wine (‘vin brulè’) are served for free.
This year’s edition of the “Millenaria” (another popular nickname for the event) is about to begin: will you be there?