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  • Writer's pictureSu Guillory

The Enchanting Tradition of Presepi in Calabria

There's a cherished Christmas tradition in Italy you might not know about: presepi, or nativity scenes. Steeped in history and religious significance, the presepi in Calabria are a delightful expression of the festive season.

Join us on a journey to explore some of the most enchanting places to witness these intricate displays.

Santa Maria del Monte in Tropea

Kick off your presepi tour in the seaside town of Tropea, where the Santa Maria del Monte church hosts a captivating nativity scene. The scene is set against the backdrop of the Tyrrhenian Sea, creating a breathtaking tableau that combines religious reverence with the beauty of the Calabrian coastline. The display is often accompanied by festive music and local traditions, making it a truly immersive experience.

Riace's Living Nativity

For a unique and interactive presepi experience, head to Riace, where the Living Nativity comes to life. The historic streets and squares of Riace are transformed into a bustling Bethlehem, complete with actors portraying characters from the nativity story. This living reenactment allows visitors to step back in time and witness the magic of Christmas in a truly authentic setting.

Cotronei's Artistic Nativities

The town of Cotronei is renowned for its artistic nativity scenes, showcasing the creativity and skill of local craftsmen. Wander through the narrow streets adorned with intricate displays that depict the nativity story with meticulous detail. The combination of traditional craftsmanship and artistic flair makes Cotronei a must-visit destination for presepi enthusiasts.

Caulonia's Nativity Trail

Caulonia, nestled between the mountains and the Ionian Sea, offers a unique Nativity Trail that winds through the town's historic center. The trail features a series of nativity scenes created by local artists, each with its own distinct style and interpretation. As you follow the trail, you'll not only enjoy the beauty of the displays but also discover hidden gems of Caulonia's cultural and architectural heritage.

Savelli's Nativity in the Clouds

For a presepi experience with a touch of magic, visit Savelli, a mountain village perched high in the Pollino National Park. Here, the nativity scene is set against the backdrop of the rugged Calabrian mountains, creating a scene that feels like it's in the clouds. The combination of natural beauty and religious symbolism makes Savelli's nativity a truly transcendent experience.

The tradition of presepi in Calabria is a testament to the region's deep-rooted cultural and religious heritage. Whether you're wandering through the artistic displays in Cotronei, participating in the Living Nativity in Riace, or enjoying the panoramic views in Savelli, each nativity scene in Calabria tells a story of faith, community, and the timeless magic of Christmas. So, this holiday season, immerse yourself in the enchanting world of presepi in Calabria and discover the beauty that brings the Christmas story to life.


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