Cultural Italy Blog: Art, Coffee & Love




In Italy nobody really cares about Christmas trees, candy canes, elves on the shelves end even Santa (or Babbo Natale, as it is called here). Presepe is instead a must have object that tunes the happy holidays mood on. If you have never heard about this – it’s time to learn.

Presepe (the Nativity Scene) takes its origins from the Christian tradition and represents nothing else but the Holy Night when baby Jesus was born.

Tiny statuettes of Mary and Joseph surrounded by very small sheep, dozens and dozens of tiny statuettes representing angels, farm animals (especially donkey and ox, of course) shepherds and even ordinary people all scattered around a mountain landscape filled with dry moss, real tree brunches, some houses and Christmas lights. 

The Presepe (s) are almost a collection that each Italian family cherishes and passes from one generation to another I was amazed to discover that the biggest one does not belong to my Italian mother-in-law. However, I am sure that she must be on top of some list as her collection made of antique statuettes occupies a half of the living room.

Seriously speaking, you can find the official biggest Presepe in Manarola, Cinque Terre in Liguria. Listed by Guinness Book of Records, it covers the entire Tre Croci hill and consists of 300 real-scale statuettes, 17 thousand light bulbs and over 8 km of electric cables. Truly impressive!

And of course, as in any Presepe, baby Jesus mysteriously appears on the Nativity Scene not before the midnight of the 25th of December. And remember He is the one who brings Christmas presents in Italy – Not only Santa. Just born and already full of surprises…

Maria Novozhilova
twitter: @NovozhilovaM