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La Baïo
March 24, 2017
by Jean Gaumy
La Baïo is a festival and historical reenactment that has taken place for several centuries in the valley of Sampeyre, in the Italian Alps. It commemorates the valley’s victory against the Saracen invasions, which occurred towards the end of the 10th century.
La Baïo brings together several diverse villages: the Baìo de Rore, Calchesio, Villar, and the Baìo de Sampeyre. It is celebrated every five years, on years ending in 2 and 7.
During the two weeks of La Baïo, men from each village form small processions or “armies,” first marching through their own village before converging and heading towards Sampeyre.
Male participants dress up as characters linked to local historical tradition: some as “moors,” some as women, and others in spectacular mitres - large ceremonial head-dresses. All of the villages join together to reenact the fight against the “invader,” their common enemy.
More than just a pageant or carnaval, La Baïo is an affirmation of a country, a region, a community and a language: Occitan.

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