• Helen

Christmas nativities

Friends and visitors often ask us what Christmas is like in Italy and whether there are different traditions from those we were used to in the UK. One of the things that stands out is the nativity scene. For sure, there are nativity scenes in every church in the UK, and a few in private houses too, but here in Italy, nativity scenes, or presepi (cribs), are ubiquitous. Almost every shop has a nativity scene on display in the window, and in the smaller villages scenes can be found laid out on people's doorsteps, in window boxes, on wine barrels, in fountains - basically anywhere that could conceivably act as a backdrop. Nativity scenes range from the very classical wooden or clay painted figures to modern interpretations involving imaginative uses of materials including pasta, cork and ironmongery.


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It turns out that we owe thanks to Saint Francis for beginning the tradition of the nativity scene, as it was he who, on Christmas Eve in 1223, first re-enacted the story of the birth of Jesus (complete with royal characters, shepherds, peasants, friars and nobles) in the Italian town of Greccio.


It wasn't long after that - in 1280 - that the first nativity "scene" was created by Arnolfo di Cambio, whose carved wooden figures are still preserved in the crypt of the Sistine Chapel, and the tradition has continued in various forms since then.


To enter into the Christmas spirit and give a flavour of the range and diversity of nativity scenes on display in our local area, as well as the imagination that goes into them, we have put together a collection of just some of those that we and our friends have spotted and photographed.


Nativity scene. Presepe.
Nativity scene set in sawdust in the San Michele district of Pescia.
Nativity. Presepe
Complete with all the farm animals.
Nativity scene. presepe.
Nativity scene outside the Santi Stefano e Niccolao church, in the Ferraia quarter, Pescia.
Nativity scene. Presepe.
Nativity outside San Michele in Pescia.
Nativity scene. Presepe.
Nativity in the San Francesco quarter, Pescia.
Nativity scene. Presepe.
San Franceso, Pescia.
Nativity scene. Presepe.
Nativity in a shop window, Pescia.
Nativity scene. Presepe.
Nativity in a shop window, Pescia.
Nativity scene. Presepe.
A very grand nativity outside a bar in Lucca.
Lucca.
Nativity scene. Presepe.
Nativity set on wine barrels in Montecarlo.
Montecarlo.
Nativity scene. Presepe.
Nativity around a Christmas tree pot in Vellano.
Nativity scene. Presepe.
The "living crib" in Pescia (2018).
Nativity in Pontito (photo credit Renzo Tori).
Nativity in stone surround in Pontito (photo credit Renzo Tori).
Nativity scene. Presepe.
Nativity in a box, Pontito (photo credit Renzo Tori).
Nativity scene. Presepe.
Nativity on a doorstep in Pontito (photo credit Renzo Tori).
Nativity scene. Presepe.
Nativity in a tree, Pontito (photo credit Renzo Tori).
Nativity scene. Presepe.
Nativity on shelves in Pontito (photo credit Renzo Tori).
Nativity scene. Presepe.
Another nativity in a box, Pontito (photo credit Renzo Tori).
Nativity scene. Presepe.
Nativity on a door in Pontito (photo credit Renzo Tori).
Nativity scene. Presepe.
Another nativity in a box, Pontito (photo credit Renzo Tori).
Nativity scene. Presepe.
Nativity in a box, on a door, Pontito (photo credit Renzo Tori).
Nativity scene. Presepe.
Nativity in a window, Pontito (photo credit Renzo Tori).
Nativity scene. Presepe.
Imaginative use of materials for this nativity in Pontito (photo credit Renzo Tori).
Nativity scene. Presepe.
Nativity in a crate in Pontito (photo credit Renzo Tori).
Nativity scene. Presepe.
Nativity on a wall in Pontito (photo credit Renzo Tori).
Nativity scene. Presepe.
Nativity in Pontito (photo credit Renzo Tori).
Nativity scene. Presepe.
Nativity in Pontito (photo credit Renzo Tori).
Nativity scene. Presepe.
Nativity on a door in Pontito (photo credit Renzo Tori).
Nativity scene. Presepe.
Nativity on a doorstep in Pontito (photo credit Renzo Tori).
Nativity scene. Presepe.
Nativity in Pontito (photo credit Renzo Tori).
Nativity scene. Presepe.
Nativity in a basket, Collodi.
Nativity scene. Presepe.
Nativity in Castelvecchio.
Nativity scene. Presepe.
Nativity on a door in Castelvecchio
Nativity scene. Presepe.
Birdcage nativity in Castelvecchio.
Nativity scene. Presepe.
Nativity in Castelvecchio.
Nativity scene. Presepe.
Our friend Massimo's impressive nativity at home. (Photo credit Massimo Giampieri.)
Nativity scene. Presepe.
A Numero 182 handcrafted nativity made in collaboration with our friends Paul & Marie.
Nativity scene. Cork. Presepe.
Our own homemade cork nativity.
Nativity scene. Cork, Presepe.


Wishing you a very happy Christmas and all good wishes for 2021.


Buone feste!



 
 



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