Nine quirky Christmas nativity scenes you can see in Italy

The Local Italy
The Local Italy - [email protected] • 22 Dec, 2016 Updated Thu 22 Dec 2016 08:50 CEST
image alt text

Nativity scenes appear in homes, churches and public buildings across the country in December, each one a little different. But while they may be a staple of the Christmas season, there's nothing traditional about these quirky examples...


1. The world's largest

Let's start with the world's largest nativity, in Cinque Terre. Each year, the picturesque town of Manarola in the Liguria tourist spot is illuminated with over 15,000 lights - a tradition which began back in 1961 with a single cross. It's not only an incredible sight but is also eco-friendly, made entirely of recycled materials.

2. The Vatican's life-size effort

The scene in Rome's Piazza San Pietro is probably the most famous. This year, the traditional nativity scene is accompanied by the cross and debris from Norcia's destroyed basilica, in a tribute to the victims of the earthquakes in central Italy. As per tradition, the baby Jesus will be added to the scene by the pope himself on Christmas Eve.

3. Pasta

It's Italy. Of course someone made a pasta presepe. This one can be seen at Rome's annual 100 presepi exhibition, displaying nativities of all materials and sizes from around the world.


A photo posted by Elena Toni (@ele_nina1103) on Dec 13, 2016 at 3:45am PST

4. A modern version

This version imagines how Jesus' birth might have been different had it happened in 2016 - selfie sticks and all.


A photo posted by ( on Dec 13, 2016 at 1:55am PST

5. On the water

The 'floating nativities' of port town Cesenatico are the only ones of their kind in the world. The boats display around 50 life-size statues throughout December, portraying a scene typical of the fishing village. Each year a new statue is added, and at night, lights bring the whole scene to life.

6. Nutella

This improvised version may be less elaborate than the others, but it's the most delicious on the list.


A photo posted by Pasquale Sabatino (@pasqualesab72) on Dec 19, 2016 at 9:45pm PST

7. On the road

We love this brightly coloured car nativity, spotted in Reggio Calabria in the south of the country.


A photo posted by Yallers Calabria (@yallerscalabria) on Dec 20, 2016 at 12:11am PST

8. Live

You might do a double take when you first see one of Italy's presepi viventi - not only are they life-size, but they are made up of real people, each acting out a character in the rural scene. There are several living nativities across the country, but this one in Matera is one of the most famous and most beautiful. Walking through a 5km route to the town centre, visitors pass shepherds and artisans who will direct them to the actual crib.

9. Sand

In Jesolo near Venice, a nativity scene made entirely of sand is inaugurated each year. This year, the scene honours the many refugees who make the journey to Italy each year, seeking shelter like the holy family.

Photo: christopher_brown/Flickr



The Local Italy 2016/12/22 08:50

Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

See Also