The Gran Festa da d’Istà

TheGreat Feast of d’Istà takes place every year in Canazei at the end of the summer season.
This year, from 8 to 10 September Canazei will be back to dress up for the 42nd edition of this colorful event.

A big party (the name says it all) with three days of happiness, fun, music, dance and folklore. For the occasion, just a stone’s throw from our hotel, a huge marquee is set up which, in addition to being an excellent refreshment point, is also the center of the party. Tourists and locals meet every year to celebrate the end of the summer season together. n addition, large and famous Austrian, South Tyrolean and Ladin folk groups give life to a series of fascinating musical concerts of their kind.
The culmination of the festival will take place on Sunday 11 September, with the great parade of musical bands and folk groups from the four Ladin valleys, namely Val di Fassa, Val Badia, Val Gardena and the Livinallongo valley through the streets of Canazei.
The parade passes right under our hotel allowing all our guests to have a privileged view right from the windows of their rooms


In 1974 Ezio Anesi became the director of the Tourist Promotion Company of Canazei, where Tarcisio Davarda and Maria Assunta Merli already worked. They were the ones who took care of the organization of the events, where a committee with this task did not yet exist and the volunteers of the town lent a hand in organizing the tourist initiatives. The following year a folklore festival was born, animated by the Alba folk group led by Guido Iori Some peasants from Siusi came to the valley and brought their helpers with them to make the parade. Since then, the idea of ​​organizing a bigger party made its way. Croce Bianca, Firefighters and Alpini made themselves available, with the desire to get busy to raise some money. Fernando Riz, head of the White Cross with his right arm Silvano Planchensteiner of Pech, Ezio Anesi and Armin Detone were the first to develop the project for a summer party and for its realization they called Ermanno Dantone for the alpine troops and Mario Micheluzzi commander of the Fire fighters


The Dolomites, a “happy” island and homeland of a people called “Ladins”, were for a long time an integral part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The Ladin population was perfectly integrated into an Austrian reality; without feeling any submission to the Empire, the Ladins lived, dressed, ate and danced as in many other parts of the Empire, certainly like all Tyroleans.
Undoubtedly it is important for the history of the dress to remember that the Fassa Valley usually went to other parts of Austria and went as far as Switzerland to work as decorators and musicians. From their travels men brought not only new melodies, memories, uses and customs, but also new habits and different tastes; some also brought to the valley beautiful fabrics or parts of women’s costumes which they gave as gifts to the family and which they often received in exchange for their services.
For the Ladin people, but also for the Austrians, the Tyroleans, the Poles and others, wearing a costume means above all performing a ritual. Wearing a costume is a sacred thing and the “dressing up”, the rite of dressing up, is an act to be performed following precise rules. The Fassa Valley inhabitants affirm that the costume must be worn with a certain bearing and that every costume relates to the wearer.
The typical costume of the Austrian and Tyrolean populations is still sewn at home or by the village dressmaker and worn exclusively by the locals. For the making of these clothes, every detail, even the length of the stitch, follows very precise reasons and rules, because as set theory also says, every single element constitutes the whole.

The fabrics of the costumes worn during the parade are linen, silk, wool; natural fabrics, which were once sold by the itinerant vendor, who usually passed (often coming from the Val Sarentino) from village to village. The seamstress came to the house and with only the help of scissors and thread, stayed in the house until the costume was finished. The pay consisted of room and board and natural goods. Costumes were passed down from grandparents to grandchildren and sometimes for more than four or five generations. The Fassa Valley took great care of their treasures and felt beautiful in their sparkling clothes.

The Fassa valley man dressed “old-fashioned” wears:

– a pair of leather trousers (even wool), black or brown, narrow and knee-length;
– a red waistcoat;
– a white shirt (possibly in linen);
– a silk tie,
– top hat or fur cap
– a black jacket;
– white socks;
– embroidered leather belt or white band;
– from the bodice hangs a long silver chain with thalers and a pocket watch at the end of the chain.

The Fassa Valley woman dressed “old-fashioned” wears

– a dress called “camejot”, made up of a red green blue or purple bodice and a wide pleated wool skirt usually black, but also in other colors (Bordeaux, brown, dark green or blue), bodice and skirt are trimmed with – trimmings of yellow silk or gold ribbons;
– white linen shirt;
– collar with borders and lace;
– collar with borders and lace;
– knickers with lace;
– wool muslin apron with floral print;
– long white socks;
– floral ribbon around the waist;
– silver pins and flickering silver filigree in the expertly braided hair;
– bone comb with beads;
– corals and silver chains around the neck;
– coral earrings


The Great Feast of d’Istà smells of sweets, sugar and jam. The group of the “fortaes”, the typical fried dessert, takes care of it to give that greedy note that everyone looks forward to, young and old.
On the first two of the four days of the festival, the oil sizzles hot from seven in the evening until one in the morning. On Sunday however, the last day of the Gran Festa, the fires are lit as early as ten in the morning. “A thousand can be fried in three hours, but it’s difficult to keep count. We set aside the sacks of flour to account for consumption. Well, we use fifty to sixty kilos a day for the first two days and up to 130 kilos on Sundays!”.
The tradition of “fortaes” and “sones”, apple fritters, has slowly taken hold by dint of attempts and tastings by our five pioneers until they have reached the perfection of the recipe which calls for a batter that is not too liquid but not too thick either. Woe to saving ingredients, which must be of good quality, abundant and always very fresh .

You need flour, milk, eggs and sugar, a little of the latter, says Maria de Bùfol, otherwise they won’t fry uniformly. A pinch of salt, grappa (schnapps), vanillin and yeast. The pasta should slide out of the hole in the funnel, but not too fast. This would mean that it is too runny and that it then splashes in the hot oil ruining its beautiful typical spiral shape. The “fortaes” that do not arrive in a workmanlike manner will never reach the tables in the marquee, they will be set aside for the staff, because desserts must not only be good, the eye also wants its part. There are funnels of all types and sizes because every cook has her own method for pouring the pasta into the oil. They often have it made to measure for their index finger which regulates the output of the dough and which after three days of work shows a callus appearing. A ladleful of batter is enough to fill the funnel, you remove your finger and move your hand in a circle over the pan, from the center to the edges to make the spiral. A puff of icing sugar and a spoonful of blueberry jam complete the work, even if this red delicacy has only been added to the original recipe for a few years now, and the “fortaa” is ready to be enjoyed. The apple slices are also dipped in the same batter to make the “sones”.
Eugenia doesn’t unbutton any more, and neither do the other cooks. This is the recipe for making good “fortaes”, but they put that something more into it that they don’t want to reveal to anyone. It is a secret that they are handed down from cook to cook as the new ones become part of the original group. In fact, from five that were at the beginning, there are now nine pastry chefs in all, and they show off a nice uniform. Eugenia is the president of the group and tells us that she has a lot of work. She has to worry about supplies, she has to clean up and get everything ready before the party starts. And there is no party without “fortaes”.

The Canazei Folk Groupp

The happy spirit and the need for joy, color and music of the Fassa Valley made possible the formation already in the twenties of the last century (1920) of different groups of people who, without being bound by obligations or statutes, dressed in the “old-fashioned” costume ” with a flag-waver carrying the banner of the seven colours; a flag that once bore five colors, those of the respective rules of the Fassa community, and later seven colors like the respective Fassa municipalities.

Despite this desire to unite as a group, poverty and the hardships of daily life in those times did not allow for the actual foundation of a folk group, also because then the traditions and the beautiful Ladin costume, which in that version very few still possessed, did not they seemed in danger of extinction, but more than lives in the heart of all the Fassa Valley.

However, the war and the hard times that followed the Second World War destroyed (or so it seemed) the cultural wealth of various rituals and traditions, music and dances that the Great War (First World War) had failed to bring with it.

It is from this need to hold on, to maintain one’s traditions, to remain faithful to the gay and cheerful spirit of these Fassa Valley, tried by the sufferings of the war, that the first small folk group was born in that beautiful village which is the hamlet of Gries near Canazei.

Officially this group was born in the early fifties led by “Tita Piasech” from Gries, but probably according to some photos found in some houses in the Fassa area, these people joined in groups even before the war.

Officially this group was born in the early fifties led by “Tita Piasech” from Gries, but probably according to some photos found in some houses in the Fassa area, these people joined in groups even before the war.

The members at the time were: Gigio da Molin, Luigia Piasega, Maria de Ciciòl, Giovanino da Poza, Rosa de Cercenà, Mondo de Zerilo, Cornelio del Lip, Angela del Grisc, Gigio del Grisc, Tita Piasech.
There is certainly no lack of contacts with other Ladin groups: Gardena, Badia, Fodom and Ampezzo, to compete against each other, learn new figures, get to know different opinions, to get closer to the Ladin culture.
Already in the early 1960s, Giuseppe Iori de Mita provided a description of the dances that then formed part of the repertoire of his Ladin folk group in a document sent to ENAL in Trento.

At the time, the knights and ladies were accompanied by an accordion, a violin and a guitar.

The musicians played tunes they heard from their fathers and rarely referred to sheet music and musical notes;
in fact these melodies are almost all of an unknown author and of ancient date.

Currently the Canazei Folk Group has a repertoire lasting about an hour.
The exhibition always begins and ends with the handling of the seven-colored flag which in ancient times represented the seven communities of the valley and still today the seven municipalities of the Val di Fassa.