Italy: Uffizi lights up with pop star Christmas Nativity scene

Music-themed Nativity installation in Florence features celebrity musicians from David Bowie to Freddie Mercury.

Italy, home of the Nativity scene, continues to present ever more imaginative interpretations of an ancient tradition begun by St Francis in the 13th century.

One of the more original scenes this year is the installation that lights up the windows of Florence's Uffizi Galleries, currently closed to the public due to the covid-19 crisis.

This luminous, hugely colourful creation - the work of Italian artist Marco Lodola - has a pop theme with a nod to Italy's popular music contest Sanremo.

Passersby were surprised to see Italian musicians Gigliola Cinquetti and Lucio Dalla in the roles of Mary and Joseph in the installation titled simply Natività.

The Christmas crib scene also features Luciano Pavarottti, Rita Pavone, Renzo Arbore and Rino Gaetano, while the international music scene is represented by Freddie Mercury as a shepherd and David Bowie as an angel.

Lodola said the concept for his pop Nativity came from reflecting on the "state of suffering we are going through today" with a focus on a "bright rebirth, a sense of hope, faith in a change to come. Like the figurines of the crib, we are the labourers of a suspended time, orchestras without an audience, theatres without a script, a stage waiting for its star."

Schmidt said the work references Nativity scenes in Renaissance paintings which were "full of celebrities of the time," hailing Lodola's installation as a "message of hope, during the closure of museums and many cultural institutions."

The pop Nativity, located on the first floor of the Uffizi, can be seen from across the museum's courtyard, as well as from Ponte Vecchio and across the river Arno, for the duration of the Christmas holiday season.