Everytime I ask someone to list the twenty-one regions of Italy, nobody ever remember all of them, especially the smaller ones such as Molise or Abruzzo. The one which, however, is always hard to remember is Valle d’Aosta (Aosta Valley). Yes, that small, tiny region on the border with France, surrounded by mountains. The flora and fauna are not lacking for sure and even if, perhaps, not everyone knows it, tourism is very developed. Come to see it with your eyes! Surely the main reason why people go to Valle d’Aosta, especially in the northern part, are the ski slopes: Courmayeur, Cervinia, Pila are just some of the crowdest places in winter. Therefore, it is common place to believe that this region is only beautiful to see when snow covers most of the peaks and houses, and this is where my confutation comes into play. I am especially interested in those who love handicraft products: today I want to talk you about the foire of été.
The foire of été is an event that takes place every year in Aosta. It started forty years ago, so it has a long history. Every year, artisans have the opportunity to expose their works and to sell them to the best bidder. The fair draws over five hundred exhibitors from the traditional Aosta Valley handicrafts sector every summer: turning, carving and sculpture of wood, processing of stone, wrought iron and leather, realization of furniture, agricultural tools, toys, miniature constructions, wooden flowers and certain wicker, but also counters produced more recently, such as salt paste, dried flowers , fabrics and other craft types.
The Foire takes place in August in the streets of the historic centre of Aosta Valley, creating a large outdoor party with music and several forms of entertainment.
This event is now a tradition for both the citizens and tourists. The aspect which can be appreciated the most is surely the desire to maintain a tradition and respect the uses and customs that have always been followed. Profit is of lesser significance: almost all exhibitors know that their products are no longer in vogue in the last historical period: modernity and novelty have ousted the old and dear local traditions. Yet, street performers do not surrender and show their works with pride, not expecting to receive something in return. Another aspect that catch everyone’s eyes is that wood and leather artisans of wood are people older than fifty. This shows the fact that, even if time has passed, traditions will never go out of fashion. Apart from the stands with the exposed materials, you can wander around the centre of Aosta, looking for something to drink or to eat typical of the place.
If, despite everything I have just written, I haven’t changed the mind of those who think that Aosta Valley is more interesting in winter, don’t panic: you will still have the opportunity to participate in “Sant’Orso fair”, which takes place every year the last days of January. As it happens for the summer fair, the artists expose their products made of wood at their stands in the historic centre of Aosta Valley. In the evening between the two days, celebrations last until late at night: the bars and pubs are filled with people, the wineries organize private parties and/or parties for everyone. You can enjoy the typical dishes of the region and drink good wine. In short, an experience to have at least once in your life, if you love the mountain places and the patronal feasts.