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Gandia Fiesta 27th - 30th September 2013

News Spain - Sept 2013

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Every year Gandia goes a little wild with its Fira i Festes - four days in which many streets and squares are used mainly for fun and games. As always, there will be live music, street theatre, a funfair and many street markets; this year a craft market is added to the mix. An "Artesanía de Autor" craft market in which only goods made by hand by the people on the stalls may be sold.

The very first Fira was held in 1310 in honour of what was then their patron saint, the archangel Michael. However, in 1542 Franciscus de Borja was canonised and so the Fira was dedicated to this illustrious citizen of Gandia. That he happened to be the grandson of Pope Alexander VI (Rodrigo Borgia), a member of the celebrated Borgia family that ruled Florence in the 15th century with poison and other devilish tactics, was considered a mere coincidence. All in all, the good burghers of Gandia chose well, for the Fira still runs after more than 700 years. This year it runs from Friday evening the 27th of September to Monday evening the 30th.

In an effort to make the Fira more interesting, Gandia Town Hall has invited Amata, the regional craft association, to set up one of its new "Artesania de Autor" markets. Nowadays a Spanish craft market (Feria de Artesania or Mercado Medieval) is usually little more than a street market in fancy dress selling goods identical to those found in the nearest pound shop, and discerning people have stopped looking for genuine craft work in such settings. These last few years Amata has been working hard to convince a somewhat sceptical public that "Artesania de Autor" really refers to a sort of craft gallery in the street. With goods lovingly made by the people at the stall, made by hand with attention to detail, quality and originality.

That is why Amata has registered the phrase "Artesania de Autor" to indicate that on the market the craftsman or woman will be there to show his or her work, and often actually be working. A bookbinder binding his books, a cordwainer working with leather, potters and engravers, silversmiths and weavers, a craftsman who cunningly carves horn and wood. Perhaps they won't be working all the time, but they have their tools and their aprons with them and can often make small changes or add a name to suit a particular client. This is where you find something original and take back a memory.

Besides the craft stalls are other stalls with food made to traditional recipes using traditional methods - cheese, dried fruit, sausages and dried meat, chocolate - and there is the usual tavern to quaff the odd pint or scoff a cut of roast pork. A concert stage will also be set up in the Plaça de l'Escola Pia, the square in which the craft market is held - for live music and other and varied entertainment. Not to mention all that's going on in the rest of the town.

If you fancy a day at the Fira, the easiest way to get there is to park your car somewhere near a train station or bus stop well away from Gandia, board the bus or train and get out at Gandia station, a mere 200 m. from the craft fair (set up just off the Avenida de Alicante). The fair opens Friday at 7:30 and stops when Cinderella has to go home; Saturday, Sunday and Monday it is open from 11 am to 2 pm and from 5pm till midnight except that on Monday it all comes to an end at about 9.30 or 10.