The Fassa Valley is one fo the three valleys belonging to the Ladin minority of Trentino Alto Adige
Tourists in the Fassa Valley will surely encounter people speaking a strange language to one another, which at first may seem to be a local dialect. Local wooden masksThis is Ladin from Fassa which is more than a dialect: it is a language in its own right. Ladin is a minority language. In Trentino Alto Adige there are two other valleys where Ladin is spoken (even if the inflection and language are slightly different): the Val Badia and the Val Gardena. The Ladin ethnic minority is also to be found in some of the other valleys, such as the nearby Livinallongo and Cortina d’Ampezzo, which are both in the province of Belluno. There is also a Ladin minority in the Grigioni Canton in Switzerland.
Our region has decided to safeguard the Ladin minority by introducing a few regulations. Street signs (for example, in towns and villages) are often written in two languages: Italian and Ladin. Thus, for example, “Canazei” becomes “Cianacei”, “Campitello” becomes “Ciampedel” and “Vigo” becomes “Vich”. Not only that, but the teaching of Ladin in elementary and middle schools is also mandatory, as is the use of Ladin in public offices. In 1975, the Ladin Cultural Institute, situated in San Giovanni, was founded to safeguard and promote the Ladin language of Fassa.
Several Christian festivals are deep-rooted in the local culture, such as the Corpus Domini, which is celebrated every year with solemn processions in the valley’s towns and villages. The most important occasions include the patron saints’ days and in particular, that dedicated to St. Juliana, the protectress of the valley. On the evening of 5 December, St. Nicholas with his long white beard and big red coat brings gifts to the homes of children. These spontaneous acts of popular faith often take place in off-season periods. They are considered as belonging to the local people and are almost never advertised for the purposes of tourism.