Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Sant’Ambrogio – La fiera dei Obej Obej – Vino Brule’

Che Bello, Che Bello, is the name of an antique tradition of Milan. Dating back to the early 1500s, Sant’Ambrogio, the Patron Saint of Milan, the Bees, Producers of Honey and Producers of Wax, has been a day festivities. The 7th of December is one of the most anticipated days of the year. The 8th is the Immacolata, a national holiday. Each city also celebrates its patron saint by closing the offices and putting on Sagre and Fairs. The Sagra of Milan is the Obej, Obej meaning how beautiful, how beautiful. The fair has been located in the square in front of the Basilica of Sant’Ambrogio for the last 400 years but this year will be moved to the square in front of Castello Sforzesco.

Two consecutive days of holiday, not in the month of August, are just the occasion for a great celebration. Many Milanesi will hit the Italian Alps for some skiing, others will make their way to Liguria for the milder weather, but many of Milan’s 3 million inhabitants will remain at home. It is estimated that in the 3 days of the Sagra more than 1 million people will visit the thousands of bancarelle, street tables, showing their goods. New items, old items, antique books, mirrors and paintings, there are foods of every type, designer clothes, and handwritten and illustrated books.

The Sagra dei Obej, Obej has its own song, proudly exhibited by the native Milanese during the festivities. There is a difference between those whose family hails from inside the circle of the 92 and the Provincial Milanesi. Of course there are the Brianzoli, who call themselves Milanesi but are not. It is in the dialect of Milan and often can be heard at the traditional pubs:

oohhh beej ohh bejjjj
le la fiera di quei più se bei
oohhh beej ohh
ghe nell'aria un profum di tortei
ghe una via piena di pittur
le una festa per i colur
per i rottamate , e per i strasce de milaannnn
de bellè ghe ne gran burdell, se ne ne incutra te spenda poc
e ghe pur
quel del sucher filattttttttt
etc etc etc …
oohhh beej ohh bejjjj

There is also vino Brule’, a welcomed drink during the cold Milan December. Vino Brule’ is an experience. The humidity is always a bit high and when the cold wind blows off the Alps just 40 km to the north, your bones chill. Vino Brule’ is the solution. It is hot, spiced red wine. If in Milan, this tradition is a must, no matter what your age.


1 liter Red Wine
1/3 cup (100 g.) Sugar
3 Cloves
¼ Nutmeg
1 stick of cinnamon
Peel of 1 lemon


In a medium pot pour the wine over medium heat. Stir in the sugar. Add the remaining ingredients. Let the mixture come to a boil. Once the sugar has completely dissolved, remove from the heat and pour the mixture through cheesecloth. Serve hot!


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

David, Deja Vu when I read this recipe. It happens to be what Pumpkin makes for those colder winter days. She says that it is also a traditional drink in Slovakia.

12:27 AM

Blogger Travel Italy said...

Lexcen Yes, it is widely used. Munich also has its version of this Christmas Toddy. There are so many ways to drink good wine and we think of it as something to get at a bar...

3:12 AM


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