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12 Dic


Vatican lights tree and inaugurates Nativity scene


Probably one of the oldest Christmas traditions in Italy is the Presepe, or Crèche, or, Nativity Scene.

Whatever you call it, you will find them everywhere in Rome at Christmas, and they are amazing.

For another year, everything was in order in St. Peter’s Square for one of the events that begin Christmas in the Eternal City.

The Vatican has lit its Christmas tree and presented its Nativity scene. First, though, Christmas carols had to be heard.

A choir from Montevergine, from which the display emanates, and a band from the Polish Forestry Body, where the tree comes from, sang the songs.

The Nativity scene was donated by the Italian abbey of Montevergine and was built by one of the most important workshops in Naples. According to Neapolitan tradition, the scene is placed among the ruins of a temple.

These little ones brought the ceremony a tender note. The children from Montevergine exchanged gifts with kids with cancer and other youth from Spoleto and Norcia, two communities hit by severe earthquakes a few months ago.

As the afternoon wound down and the moment grew close, the wait was enlivened by more music.

…Until the Nativity scene was lit.

Minutes later, the tree.

The fir, which measures 92 feet, was donated to the Vatican by Poland. In recognition of this gift, the band played the Polish national anthem.

It’s decorated with clay ornaments made by children admitted to the cancer departments of various Italian hospitals.

The Nativity scene and tree will remain lit in St. Peter’s Square until January 7, 2018, the day the Church celebrates the Baptism of the Lord.

There are others Nativity Scenes in Rome at Christmas: in the center of Piazza Navona, in Piazza del Popolo and the one in the church of Santa Maria d’Aracoeli, on the Capitoline Hill.

But almost every church in Rome (and frankly just about everywhere in Italy) has a presepe during Christmas.


Speaking of these little figurines for Christmas Nativity Scenes (presepi), you may also want to check out the shop on via dei Coronari, that sells these year-round. So even if you are not in Rome at Christmas, you can get into the “Christmas Market” mood.

The figurines are (mostly) not made in Naples, but are made by Italian artisans from different parts of Italy, in particular Tuscany.

Items range from Christmas-y to not, and very small to quite large.

It’s a fun shop and frankly anytime I take visitors there, they seem to buy something! Via dei Coronari 152, open daily 10am – 8pm.


If you are looking for some seriously cute Christmas ornaments and decorations, check out the “Sempre Natale” store in Rome.

That means “always Christmas”, and it does feel like it inside. The shop is small but well stocked with a great assortment of ornaments. Via della Scrofa 93, not far from Piazza Navona and the Pantheon. Open Thurs – Tues 11am – 9pm. Closed Wednesday.


Photo Credit: Belltower

After a day of sightseeing in Rome and Trastevere the best place to rest is placed in Trastevere; HOSTEL TRUSTEVER located in Via Francesco Benaglia, 13.

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