Neapolitan Nativities: A Buyer’s Guide

Dec 17, 2019 551

BY: Laura Morelli

From the shop windows of Naples, hundreds of faces lure us with their expressions: proud, sad, joyful, lewd, angelic, humorous. Few artistic traditions have this ability to pull at our heartstrings, to surprise and delight us, to make us laugh out loud. More than any other Neapolitan tradition, nativities (called o’presebbio in Neapolitan dialect) encapsulate the spirit of the city—dramatic, Baroque, dark, animated, funny, and awe-inspiring all at the same time. 

Neapolitan presepi (nativity figures) and pastori (pastoral figures) have delighted viewers for hundreds of years, and they still draw visitors to the San Gregorio Armeno quarter of the city, where the tradition of making these modeled figures by hand remains vibrant. 

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