Pesa Vegia

Pesa Vegia is an unmissable event for the Christmas holidays, an event with over 400 years of history that every year on January 5 is re-presented to its visitors, renewing and keeping unchanged legend and magic. There are many legends and hypotheses arising in the years around the birth of this over a hundred year old event. From the research work carried out recently by Antonio Rusconi (and resulted in the publication of the book “Pesa Vegia between legend and reality”), a dating around 1605 is documented as more likely, the year in which there was an emanation of a shout Governor Pedro Acevedo, Count of Fuentes, who canceled a previous reform of 1604 and restored the old units of measurement (hence the name Pesa Vegia).

The legend

The new units of measure, that is, the “weighs nova”, had provoked disappointment in the Bellano’s traders: that “unjust ordinance” was considered a real disaster for the commercial activities of the country if it had not been able to counteract its application.
And in an excited meeting in the Town Hall it was decided to appeal to the Governor himself, to cancel the new scales and issue a new cries to restore the old measures. The Count of Fuentes, demonstrating all his magnanimity, accepted the pleas of the inhabitants of Bellano, and led a delegation with the destination of the village of Como.
The atmosphere was tense in the country for the outcome of the expedition. From the early afternoon an unusual bustle animated the Puncia and after sunset the beach beyond the river Pioverna was full of young and old who looked forward to the boat. Time flowed inexorably. The darkness was pressing, the air was pungent, icy.
Crouching around a campfire, men and women were pensive, worried. And from time to time they pointed their eyes at the darkness of the lake to understand some slight sign. The noise of a rush came suddenly. The cold inhabitants of Bellano stood up and peered in the distance. And when they saw the gondola, with how much breath they had in their throats, they launched from the shore the cry “Pesa vegia or Pesa nova?”; “Pesa Vegia” was the answer. Populans and traders exulted. The whole village rushed into the dock to welcome the Spanish messengers of the benevolent ordinance. Someone remembered that it was the eve of the Epiphany and madmen of joy staged the representation of the Magi and, improvising a long procession, walked the streets of the village pausing to drink and eat in bars and restaurants open all night until morning.


The inhabitants of Bellano celebrate this event every year for 4 centuries, even in times of wars and privations, staging the procession of the Three Kings, the race of the Pese through the streets of the village and the bonfire on the pier. Over the years there have been many changes and innovations in the way of celebrating the good news. And so in the second half of the twentieth century the governor and the reading of the edict from the balcony of the Town Hall, the living nativity scene, the castle of King Herod and more: elements that inserted in the traditional Feast of the Three Kings give rise to that popular event where the sacred merges with the profane in an indissoluble bond from the name “Pesa Vegia”.


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