Sunday, December 25, 2011

Becoming a part of the Christmas story

       You might have caught a glimpse  of the group of costumed characters with  bleating lambs  on a corny RAI-TV musical show  a few nights before Christmas. 
Claudio the giornalaio  played the part of governor 
 They were a small delegation of our town’s  Presepe Vivente group, (100+ persons) which celebrates its  25th anniversary this year.

Over the past  quarter century, this live Christmas scene has become a  tradition and  part of the  town’s folklore. Everyone has at least  one  family member  who has  played a part in the Christmas story.

 Giacomo, my computer guy, was baby Jesus during the first edition and Paolo, who played a Cardinal last year has moved up to become  San Giuseppe this year.  

 Young girls  work their way up from “extras” in the market scene to washer women with only a few  lucky ones  selected  at  age  16-17 to  play  the part of  Madonna-of-the-year.

Paola heads the group at the bakery 

 For city dwellers, a trip to view one of these country Presepi Viventi,  is an excellent antidote to commercialism which often blights the holidays. 
waiting to enter  the Presepe Vivente 

residents become actors 

offering bruschetta  to visitors 

 Foreign visitors  delight in this  plunge into the past for it satisfies the romantic vision of Italian lifestyle. 

Local people are pleasantly surprised  as they see the well preserved medieval quarters of their town, for the first time, in a different light.
Susanna and Lucilla as 18th century ladies

gardens of Palazzo Pieri Piatti are a backdrop to the Nativity scene

Via Vecchia 
The audience participates in the Christmas story as they walk through the different scenes some designed like Roessler Franz paintings: the wash-house, the market, artisan’s workshops, the osteria, the schoolhouse.
Giulia  was Madonna a few years ago

Mary and  Joseph ,  2012  in church of S. Maria del Riscatto
 The final scene of the Holy Family and the manger is set inside an abandoned church. This year Madonna del Riscatto  (also known as San Pietro)     
 Here shepherds prepare ricotta over an open fire and offer  children a chance to pat the lambs and taste a slice of  bruschetta doused  with the areas’s famous  extra virgin olive oil.

little carpenters 

By retelling  the Christmas story using the townspeople as actors, plus lights and music, the organizers have created an historical “Sound and Light” show that is a continuation  of  those miracle and  mystery plays used to explain the Bible  in medieval times. 

For a full list of  the Christmas presepi viventi in the area check the Provincia's website

Check the Pro-Loco website for more photos of  past editions of  Vetralla’s  presepe vivente and the evenings when the Presepe will take place (at dusk until approximately  7:30 p.m)  during the  holiday week. 

Many thanks to  Dietmeyer Frensemeyer for his photos of  the medieval vicoli di Vetralla, where the presepe is held. 

N:B:   December  2013  Last Minute  announcement  by Vetralla's Pro Loco announced that  the Presepe Vivente, after   27 successful years, has come to an end here in Vetralla.  I can recommend that in nearby Tarquinia  for the 2013 season.