Terre di Pisa | Celebrating the Nativity Scene

  • Total length (km): 50
  • Percorribilità: by bike, scooter, vespa, car, camper
  • Difficoltà: None

At Christmas season, in many places you can find nativity scenes made with attention to the smallest details, small masterpieces made by hand with patience and passion by true artisan artists. In the past, it was customary in some Italian regions to have beautiful nativity scenes made by real artists, then preserving them in real museums. Nowadays in Tuscany, there is no longer this custom but for pleasure many people make cribs that we can undoubtedly define exposure.

The itinerary starts from the slopes of Monte Pisano mentioned by Dante in the Divine Comedy “for which the Pisans cannot see Lucca”. It starts from Calci, for its Monumental Certosa and the adjacent Museum of Natural History of the University of Pisa, inside which is set up an animated Nativity scene, with many characters handmade by the Meucci brothers, local artists.

Going up towards Monte Serra, in the church of Nicosia, a former convent of the medieval period, the tradition of the Nativity that grows is renewed, so called because every year it adds new characters and new environments.

In the nearby village Tre Colli, the crib is set up in the Church of the Madonna delle Grazie and is open until the beginning of February.

Travelling along the Olive Oil Route of the Pisan Mount we meet the village of San Giovanni alla Vena, where in an old cellar is the ‘Angel’s Nativity’, made by local artist Angelo Perini using olive tree trunks and logs, entirely hand carved. Do not forget to visit Vicopisano, a medieval jewel with 13 tower houses dominated by the Rocca del Brunelleschi, an example of military architecture. And please, buy or taste the fine extra virgin olive oil of Monti Pisani at oil mills or farms.

Nativity Scenes have become an occasion to spread joy and express a heartfelt and deep commitment. Examples of this tradition can be found in Castelfranco di Sotto, an authentic celebration of this Divine Birth, with thirty-three Nativity Scenes placed in different locations around the town all lit up at the same time creating a joyful and traditional celebration.

The itinerary moves to the plains of Valdarno Inferiore, towards Florence. An unmissable stop in San Romano, scene of a bloody battle between Pisans and Florentines immortalized by the painter Paolo Uccello. In the cloister of the Sanctuary of the Madonna, since 1922, there is an artistic crib known throughout Tuscany. Some numbers: 300 square meters of exposure, 2 months of work to prepare it, 20,000 average visitors. In the nearby village of Marti, there are over 100 “Nativity Scenes on the road” made by the inhabitants that transform the streets of the ancient village in a large open-air exhibition.

Worthy of attention is the one in the hamlet of Cigoli, where one of the most technological Palestinian cribs in Italy is realized inside the suggestive Sanctuary of the Madre dei Bimbi. The dimensions of the crib have grown from year to year to reach 100 square meters, occupying all the available space in the suggestive rooms adjacent to the Sanctuary , reaching an almost maniacal level of detail. These characteristics acquired over the years thanks to hard work, but also to the passion, expertise and experience of the Group of Young Nativity Scenes, have meant that the Artistic Nativity of Cigoli is positioned at the top of the Italian nativity scene art.

Last stop San Miniato, land of the white truffle but also of artistic nativity scenes. In the historic center is set up every year the Artistic Crib made by local artist Mario Rossi, with a blessing by the Bishop on Christmas Eve. In the Convent of San Francesco the exhibition “Nativity scenes from all over the world in art and tradition” organized by Friars Minor Conventual of Tuscany.




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