Rome’s nativity cribs during Christmas season.
Rome has numerous Christmas cribs on display at this time of the year, the best-known of which is 100 Presepi in Piazza del Popolo. The 41st edition of this annual international nativity crib exhibition at Sala del Bramante can be visited daily from 09.30-20.00, including Christmas Day, until 8 January.
The 100 Presepi exhibition hosts some 150 nativity scenes from Italy and more than 40 other countries. In addition to contemporary reproductions of traditional 18th-century Neapolitan and Sicilian cribs, and 19th-century Roman mangers, there are modern versions made from wood, papier-mâché and terracotta, as well as unconventional materials such as sand, rice, pasta, nuts and bolts.
Founded in 1975 by journalist Manilo Menaglio, the original aim of 100 Presepi was to preserve the ancient Italian tradition of crib-making. The exhibition also acts as a competition and ends with an award ceremony for the winners in the following four categories: Christmas cribs, fantasy cribs, international exhibits, and foreign schools, institutions and associations. There are also crib-building workshops for children.
The Vatican’s giant nativity scene in St Peter’s Square will be unveiled officially on 9 December and will comprise 17 statues dressed in traditional Maltese costumes. It will also contain a replica of a traditional Maltese boat, reflecting in part the current realities faced by migrants making the perilous journey across the Mediterranean.
For the last six decades Italian members of the global crib-building association Amici del Presepio build a traditional-style crib in the church of S. Maria in Via off Largo Chigi each year.
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, beneath the church of SS. Quirico e Giulitta, the international collection comprises 3,000 figurines made from a wide selection of materials, as well as books, medals and stamps. Visits are free but cater for a maximum of 20 people, and must be arranged by appointment. For details including visiting times tel. 066796146 or see website.
A more unusual manger scene can be found near St Peter’s on Via dei Cavalleggeri 5. The street cleaner’s crib, owned and cared for by Rome’s rubbish collection company, has a floor containing over 1,400 different stones brought by pilgrims from all over the world.
For details of the Presepe dei Netturbini, including visiting times, see website.