The celebration of San Bernardo is a much-awaited feature of Bodengo’s year.
The little church (15th C.) in the village is dedicated to the saint and the penultimate weekend in August sees the entire populace gather in the crotto area of this extraordinary
alpine retreat. In years gone by it remained a somewhat religious affair but since the 60’s the weekend has taken on a much more celebratory nature with festivities continuing well into the evening.
And today it has even more of a professional touch with delicious local delicacies painstakingly prepared: spit-roasted meats and vegetables cooked traditionally on hot stones, polenta made from local cheese and butter. And of course Saturday evening sees live music, dancing and bonfires.
There’s bike racing on Sunday morning for those still standing, from Gordona all the way up to the church where a service dedicated to the patron saint follows. Then it’s back to the tables for lunch followed by a much-needed stroll away and beyond the crotti alongside the presentation of prizes to the winning cyclists.
The crotti themselves were originally occupied with the conservation of dairy produce, sausages, wine and meat but recent decades has seen considerable change: the arrival first of the cable car followed by the road has meant that every conceivable type of product is now readily available. But thankfully genuine traditions remain; the time when the seasons dictated the differing rhythms of life may be somewhere down memory lane but convivial meetings linger on: what could be better after a hard day’s work than to sit in the ‘curt’ or round an open fire and tell stories of devils and witches, enjoying the simple joys of an alpine environment singing traditional songs telling of courtship, migration or war!
Valbodengo was seriously damaged by the floods of September 1983 including the destruction of several beautiful stone bridges and flooding also putting the very Crotti area at some risk of collapse. But thankfully restoration was swift in coming and the area was re-designed to have a dual function in the future: first was to guarantee stability and security, but in addition an area was created for community activities, including of course the late August festival. Bodengo clearly takes its celebrations seriously – so you’re guaranteed a big welcome and generous hospitality. Don’t miss this year’s fun.