Travel Tales and Tips – Ancient woodcarving and artisan Fair in Donnas, Aosta (the Italian Alps near the French-Swiss border)

I have been lucky enough to go to a centuries old annual woodcarving and local artisan craftsmanship fair in Donnas twice in my life. The festival in the ancient town of Donnas, founded in the year 1000 (according to wikipedia and the stories I was told by the locals), is part of the bigger Sant’ Orso Fair held every year on the 30 and 31st of January.

The one held in Donnas is usually organised for the Sunday during the period 15-20 January to avoid overlapping with the one in Aosta. It is smaller in terms of the number of craftsmen as well as crowd because you can only fit so many hundreds of people in the tiny medieval cobbled town streets. I have been to both fairs in Donnas and Sant’ Orso and if it is your first time I would recommend Donnas because it gives you a better opportunity to have a closer and more leisurely look at the stunning work on display and for sale. Sant’Orso is so crowded that it feels a bit like body surfing through a crowd. You cannot control the movement of your body, the crowd simply pushes you along and you have to go with it.

Apart from the incredible skill of the craftsmen, the fair has many wonderful things like the local band playing, food stalls with cheese, honey, nougat, local specialties and a black bread they bake especially which is stuffed full of fig, nuts, spices…delicious!!!! The black bread is usually eaten with a bit of honey and a slice of lard spread on top. You can also eat a local dish made of a thin polenta cake stuffed full of sausage or cheese. Yum.

It is not easy to get to Aosta and I would recommend booking in advance. There is a train station, and it might be possible to organise a shuttle service with the bnb you book with. Hidden in the very north west of Italy, nestled among the alps near the French and Swiss border, the town and festival are well worth the effort and challenges you may face to get there. I will include a link to the official tourism site in case you are curious to go and see for yourself. Good wine, good food and stunning views. Aosta is definitely one of the most beautiful places I have seen in my life. It’s natural beauty rivals any magnificent architecture of the most beautiful cities of the world.

http://www.lovevda.it/en/database/2/craft-fairs-markets/donnas/sant-orso-fair-in-donnas/34313

In this post, I will let the photos speak to you so you can see for yourself.

If you have been to this festival, or have heard of it or end up going, please do share your experiences, I would love to hear about them 🙂

grolla - cup of friendship each person drinks from one spout, sharing the drink and their friendship

grolla – cup of friendship
each person drinks from one spout, sharing the drink and their friendship

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

traditional thin polenta cake stuffed with either cheese or sausage, or both :)

traditional thin polenta cake stuffed with either cheese or sausage, or both 🙂

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: