Among the numerous attractions and events which are on offer in Tuscia during the festive season, there is an appointment you should not really miss: the live nativity scene in Civita di Bagnoregio.
The nativity scene is one of the most ancient Italian traditions at Christmas time: called presepio or presepe, it brings to life the story of the Nativity as told in the Gospels. The static ones are usually set up in churches and in private living rooms on December 8th (the day of the Immaculate Conception) and remain up until January 6th that is the Epiphany, the day associated with the visit of the Three Kings or Magi. A nativity scene always include the figures of Mary, Joseph and the infant Jesus: the most complex ones are enriched with buildings, streets, animals, trees and other human figurines attending their daily routine.
A live nativity scene is a proper reenactment in which locals usually take part, wearing costumes and interpreting the part they got assigned. In Tuscia, this is usually held in the most ancient part of the town that organizes it, taking advantage of the beautiful backdrop provided by ancient buildings and cobbled streets. The most charming one is held in Civita di Bagnoregio, a village perched on top of a tuff hill, accessible only via a pedestrian walkway.
A setting that adds a little magic
Nicknamed “The Dying City” because of its isolation, Civita di Bagnoregio is the stage of a fascinating live nativity scene. Imagine entering an old town passing by Roman soldiers, then heading through the Arabian souk, watching shepherds and artisans at work then reaching the central square where the Holy Family and the Three Wise Man are. All the characters of that night of more than 2000 years ago in Bethlehem are faithfully played by tens of people. Every year the event is prepared with the utmost attention to the every single detail: from costumes to scenography, from the characters’ movements to the music, that adds that special touch of magic to an already enchanting atmosphere .
The reenactment starts at sunset, the fires are lit, all the characters take their places and entering Civita di Bagnoregio feels like stepping back in time.
This year, the live nativity scene will take place on the following days: 26th and 30th December. In January 2018, three more appointments on the 1st, 6th and 7th. This edition will be organized once again by the local Red Cross whose aim is to use the proceeds to fund their activity and invest in new means of transportation.