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Christmas 2021: The most living nativity scenes beautiful of Italy

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Joel Fulleda
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With the arrival of the first cold weather and the approach of the Christmas holidays, there also comes that time of the year when the old traditions are dusted off, those that in our country have been handed down for generations and that survive the passage of time. One of these, certainly the most loved by Italians, is that of Living Nativity: this is the first living reinterpretation of the birth of Jesus, whose first ever representation was made by St. Francis of Assisi in 1223, and then transmitted over the centuries and up to the present day.

For us Italians, Christmas cannot exist without this particular celebration that unites and involves all regions of the boot from North to South (including islands). If you want to organize a trip at Christmas time or if you are curious to find out which are the most spectacular and fascinating living nativity scenes, in this article we include a list of the most recommended with some suggestions regarding the period, what to visit in the surroundings, etc.



1 - Living Nativity of Custonaci (Sicily)

Living Nativity Scene near the Mangiapane Cave. The entire event involves the whole country: more than 160 interpreters including artisans and peasant workers will be called to participate. The event has as its main focus the parade with the extras and the scene of the Holy Family in the cave, but not only: cultural tours, concerts, light games will also be organized, in addition to the creation of the play village, dedicated to children.


  • Date: from 25 to 29 December - 5 and 6 January
  • Info: Admission around € 10,00 for adults. The event takes place from 16:00 to 21:00 (the ticket office closes at 20:00), on 25/12 early closure at 20:00 (ticket office closes at 19:00). Only 500 tickets available for each hour of entry.
  • Get directions
  • What to see in the surroundings: Santuario Maria Santissima, Cornino Bay, Trapani, Erice
  • Hotel and b & b starting from € 40,00 per room -

2 - Living Nativity of Dogliani-Castello (Piedmont)

In the picturesque village of Dogliani, near its castle and the houses in its surroundings, an incredible living nativity scene is held every year that always attracts crowds of tourists intrigued by the very realistic setting of the event. In fact, the village is transformed for the occasion, becoming a sort of miniature Bethlehem in which each house is decorated as a small shop where the old peasant / artisan professions of the time are shown: spinners, shepherds, wheat beaters, blacksmiths , potters, ancient bazaars, etc.


  • Date: 23 and 24 December
  • Get directions
  • What to see in the surroundings: Town Hall, Church of Santi Quirico e Paolo, Civic Tower, Church of San Lorenzo.
  • Hotel and b & b starting from € 60,00 per room -

3 - Living nativity scene of Pietrelcina (Campania)

In Pietrelcina, the birthplace of Padre Pio, it is not possible to conceive Christmas without considering the very famous Living Nativity of the city, which has now become a real institution: born in 1987, on the occasion of the centenary of the death of Padre Pio, the success and the interest aroused by that first performance convinced the organizers of the time to invest more and more effort in the event until it reached the popularity it enjoys today. Thanks to the collaboration of over 200 people, the Pietrelcina Nativity scene is renowned for its attention to detail, starting with the same realistic and refined stage costumes.


  • Date: 28, 28 and 29 December
  • Get directions
  • What to see in the surroundings: Birthplace of Padre Pio, Piana Romana, Convent of the Friars Minor, Way of the Rosary.
  • Hotel and b & b starting from € 45,00 per room -

4 - Living Nativity of Tricase (Puglia)

In the province of Lecce, there is the town of Tricase, known mainly as a summer destination as it jealously guards one of the most beautiful natural pools in Italy. However, at Christmas, the town is still visited by many people, especially interested in its living nativity scene: faithful to tradition and folklore, it is one of the most anticipated events of the year by both citizens and crowds of tourists.


  • Date: from 25th to 30th December - 1,4,5,6 January
  • Get directions
  • What to see in the surroundings: Natural swimming pool of Marina Serra, Piazza Pisanelli, Quercia Vallonea, Green Grotto, Specchia historic center, Lecce.
  • Hotel and b & b starting from € 25,00 per room -

5 - Living nativity scene of Greccio (Lazio)

In Greccio the tradition of the nativity scene is one of the oldest in Italy: it was in fact St. Francis, in 1209, who established it after having helped the medieval town with the threat of wolves that undermined the safety not only of the livestock but of the citizens themselves. In fact, the threat appeased, Francis moved to a hut just outside Greccio and, noticing several similarities with Bethlehem, he decided to propose the birth of Jesus again in this village set in the rock. Since then the tradition has remained intact up to us, becoming the main attraction of the town.


  • Date: approximately the last week of December and the first of January
  • Get directions
  • What to see in the surroundings: Franciscan Sanctuary, International Nativity Museum, Church of Santa Maria del Giglio, Contigliano Alta.
  • Hotel and b & b starting from € 65,00 per room -

6 - Living nativity scene of Matera (Basilicata)

The living nativity scene of Matera is easily one of the most spectacular in all of Italy, also due to the very particular location which certainly makes the experience even more special. Created by a private cultural association, the living nativity scene is presented welcoming tourists from all over Italy. Matera, which has recently been the Capital of Culture, is absolutely worth a visit, so why not take advantage of the holiday season?


  • Date: 7-8, 14-15, 21-22, 27-28-29 December
  • Get directions
  • What to see in the surroundings: Sassi di Matera, Laboratory Museum of Farming Civilization, Murgia Park, Crypt of the Original Sin, San Giovanni Battista.
  • Hotel and b & b starting from € 30,00 per room -

7 - Living Nativity of Morano Calabro (Calabria)

Morano Calabro is an ancient medieval Calabrian village, in the province of Cosenza, located on a beautiful hill not far from Monte Pollino. Here, as every year, the Friars Minor organize the highly anticipated living nativity scene in collaboration with the locals. The representation of the crib begins on the 24th evening, immediately after the Christmas Mass.

  • Date: 25, 26, 28, 29 December - 1, 5, 6 January
  • Get directions
  • What to see in the surroundings: medieval village, Pollino Naturalistic Studies Center, Monastery ruins.
  • Hotel and b & b starting from € 40,00 per room -

8 - Living nativity scene of Equi Terme (Tuscany)

In the locality of Lunigiana, in the province of Massa Carrara, there is the small village of Equi Terme, where at Christmas the representation of the most traditional living nativity scene in the Tuscany region is held. The route taken to reach the Grotto of the Nativity (which is none other than the famous Grotta di Equi) is very suggestive: the road is in fact all lit up by torches and candles ... A decidedly spectacular show!

  • Date: from 24 to 27 December
  • Info: the route takes place on the eve from 20:00 to 23:30 and from 18:00 to 21:00 on 25, 26 and 27 December.
    The journey takes 40/60 minutes. It is suitable for everyone, but not for strollers and / or prams. The price is around € 5,00.
  • Get directions
  • What to see in the surroundings: Caves of Equi, Castello dell'Aquila, Terme di Equi, Colonnata, Torre di Casola, Campocecina, Marble Quarries.
  • Hotel and b & b starting from € 40,00 per room -

9 - Living Nativity of Genga (Marche)

Even in Genga, in the province of Ancona, the celebration of Christmas is accompanied by the creation of the living nativity scene, which some say is even the largest in all of Italy. Taking advantage of the natural wonder of the Frasassi Caves, visited by a large number of tourists in any season, the event involves over 300 participants, many of whom disguised as farmers, fishermen and shepherds who accompany visitors into the caves.

  • Date: only on 26th and 29th December
  • Info: the cost of the ticket is € 7,5 and the performances take place from 14:30 to 18:30.
  • Get directions
  • What to see in the surroundings: Frasassi Caves, Tempio del Valadier, Abbey of San Vittore delle Chiuse, Gola Natural Park.
  • Hotel and b & b starting from € 60,00 per room -

10 - Living nativity scene of Montefiore Conca (Emilia-Romagna)

Montefiore Conca, in the province of Ancona, is a village certified with the Orange Flag by the Italian Touring Club. Its peculiarity is the Rocca which dominates the landscape and welcomes visitors as soon as they enter the town. For the Christmas holidays, every year the village is decorated with lights and other themed decorations, but it is certainly the beloved living nativity scene that is the main attraction of the period.

  • Date: approximately from 6 to 30 December
  • Get directions
  • What to see in the surroundings: Rocca, Grotte di Onferno, Sanctuary of the Madonna di Bonora, Church of San Paolo, Church of the Ospedale della Misericordia.
  • Hotel and b & b starting from € 80,00 per room -

11 - Living Nativity of Compignano (Umbria)

Even in Compignano, a very small Umbrian town near Marsciano, Christmas is a serious matter and the creation of the living nativity scene takes place every year with the participation of all citizens: in fact, its 300 inhabitants are not only personally called to participate. as appearances at the event in costume, but are also engaged in the preparation / sale of Christmas sweets, mulled wine and other typical delicacies of the area. A great way to combine sacredness and popular tradition, in a joyful atmosphere that will involve everyone!

  • Date: approximately 24 and 6 December - 1 and 6 January (to be confirmed)
  • Get directions
  • What to see in the surroundings: Villa Baldini, Villa Hernandez, Church of San Frediano.
  • Hotel and b & b starting from € 45,00 per room -

12 - Living nativity scene from the 700th century, Vaccheria - Caserta (Campania)

In Caserta, in the Vaccheria district, the living nativity scene develops along a path of about two kilometers between the streets and alleys of the village and the adjacent wood. What makes this event unique of its kind, very different from all the living nativity scenes that we have presented, is that many scenes represented along the way are not taken from the Gospels and religious stories, but from the typical Neapolitan tradition. In this sense, even the costumes are not exactly those of the time of Jesus, but are more similar to eighteenth-century fashions. Without a doubt, an original nativity scene!

  • Date: December 28th and 29th - January 5th and 6th
  • Get directions
  • What to see in the surroundings: Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, Caserta, Royal Palace of Caserta
  • Hotel and b & b starting from € 40,00 per room -

13 - Living nativity scene of Assolo (Sardinia)

Finally, the living nativity scene of Assolo is one of the largest in Sardinia. Organized by the Bentu 'e Jara Cultural Association, it attracts a large number of tourists every year: the scenography is set up in the streets of the historic center and, following the trail of comets, the visitor can venture around the town, discovering the inside of hidden courtyards the works of the past, which blend Sardinian craftsmanship. There are also refreshment points and stalls with local products.

  • Date: approximately 26 December (to be confirmed)
  • Get directions
  • What to see in the surroundings: Cathedral of Assolo, Senis, Albagiara.
  • Hotel and b & b starting from € 40,00 per room -
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