The Fiera of San Martino is held on the 11th of November and during the previous and following week-ends and is known as the “Festa dei Becchi”. The dialect word “becchi” means goat and refers to a horned person which in colloquial Italian means someone that has been cuckolded. For this occasion a huge set of horns is hung under the triumphal arch and tradition has it that if they move when someone walks underneath them, that person has been cuckolded. So beware of passing under them on a windy day!

The whole town is brightened up by stalls and stands selling the exquisite local cuisine and other culinary delights from various Italian regions.

An event that cannot be missed is the “Palio della Piadina”, a friendly competition between amateur cooks who compete against each other hoping to make the best local flat bread called Piadina.

The fair still hosts the National Festival of storytellers to this day.

For first timers, we recommend you try the local Piadina, stuffed with sausage and onion and accompanied by some delicious Sangiovese wine: for dessert, roasted chestnuts and a glass of sweet Cagnina.

A bit of history

 For centuries, in rural areas, fairs have been important and irreplaceable events for the free movement of people, livestock and produce.

The fair of San Martino is, and has been for two centuries, the most important event for Santarcangelo. This is because it is linked to a very precise moment in the rural calendar: the sale of the new wine meant the end of the farmers’ year. It also coincided with significant events in the agricultural world, such as the renewal of contracts between landowners and sharecroppers, the purchase of new work materials, and livestock sales.

The more irreverent aspect  of the festivities is represented by the horns that are hung each year under the arch. They are adorned with colourful knitted cords which were once used to decorate the oxen’s horns when the were brought to the fairs. They are put up in early November and are taken down the Sunday after the fair has finished when the foot race, called “cheurse di bec” (the oxen race), is held’

The origin of the what the horns represent is uncertain, but it is assumed that they date back to the Gallic Celtic tradition or to their agricultural origin. This is yet another of the many mysteries that surround the small town of Santarcangelo.

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