The 37th edition of the annual international nativity crib exhibition 100 Presepi has opened in Piazza del Popolo's Sala del Bramante and runs daily throughout the Christmas season – including Christmas Day – until 6 January 2013.
In addition to contemporary ceramic and wooden reproductions of traditional 18th-century Neapolitan and Sicilian cribs and 19th-century Roman ones, the exhibition hosts numerous creations constructed from materials as various as ostrich eggs, shells, tea bags, glass, spices and even pasta.
This year there are nativity scenes made from banana leaves, sweet corn, mud, musical instruments, bread, newspaper cuttings, nuts and bolts, pine cones and men's ties. There are 171 nativity scenes on display - the majority of them from Italian regions while about a third hail from other European countries, Asia, Latin America, North America and Africa.
The "Playing with the Creche" one-hour workshop is designed for children aged from four to 11, during which the children are taught how to create miniature figurines for the nativity scene. At the end of the workshop, which runs until 6 January, the children can keep their creations. Booking is required, tel. 068542355, 0685357191 (Mon-Fri 10.00-13.00).
Founded in 1975 by journalist Manilo Menaglio, the original aim of 100 Presepi was to preserve the ancient Italian tradition of crib-making but it has since become a competition with awards given in four categories: Christmas cribs, fantasy cribs, international exhibits, and foreign schools, institutions and associations.
Meanwhile, each year at S. Maria in Via near Piazza S. Silvestro, Italian members of the global crib-building association Friends of the Crib build a traditional-style crib in the church (being launched on 15 Dec this year) as well as constructing the large cribs in Piazza Navona and Piazza S. Pietro.
Near the Roman Forum is the Museo Tipologico Nazionale del Presepio, a private museum dedicated to crib memorabilia accumulated by crib expert Angelo Stefanucci (1905-1990). Located on Via Tor de' Conti, 31/A, under the church of SS. Quirico e Giulitta, the international collection comprises 3,000 figurines made from an eclectic selection of materials, as well as books, medals and stamps. Visits (max. 20 people) arranged by appointment, tel. 066796146.
A more unusual manger scene is the street cleaner’s crib, owned and cared for by Ama Roma, the municipal refuse company. Located on Via dei Cavalleggeri 5, near St Peters, the floor of the manger contains over 1,400 different stones brought by pilgrims from all over the world. The Presepe dei Netturbini is open daily from 15 Dec-30 Jan, 08.00-20.00.
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Christmas crib season in Rome
100 Presepi, Sale del Bramante, Viale Gabriele D'Annunzio (Piazza del Popolo), tel. 063218334.