Five of Italy’s Most Original ‘Presepi’

Dec 13, 2021 484

BY: Silvia Donati

The tradition of the ‘presepe’ in Italy began with none other than Saint Francis of Assisi’. Profoundly moved after seeing the sacred representations on the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, Francis returned to Italy and created history’s first nativity scene in 1223 in a cave just outside Greccio (Lazio). Thus, the tradition of arranging nativity scenes at Christmas was born. Today, the Italian holidays would not be so without the presepe, and here are five of the most evocative ones all across Italy. 

The floating nativity scene in Burano, Venice, is probably the most artsy. Religious figures including baby Jesus, Joseph and Mary, emerge from the waters of the lagoon. The work was created by a local resident, Francesco Orazio, a greengrocer. The painted plywood nativity figures are anchored to the bottom of the lagoon, with the skyline of Venice as a backdrop.

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