The living nativity in Puglia is an heartwarming expression of the local culture and the way to find again the most authentic meaning of Christmas
Small or large, simple or complex. When Christmas comes, the nativity scenes cannot be missing niether in Italian homes nor in churches or squares, where you can even find some beautiful ones in full size. When dozens of costumed extras, real animals and incredibly realistic sets put on the show, the experience becomes even more unforgettable.Let's set off to discover the fascinating tradition of living nativity in Puglia, a region rich in art, history and practices rooted in the dawn of time.
Another reason to visit Puglia at Christmas? One of its umissable cribs boasts some national records in competition with other famous ones, in other italian regions.
A mini tour dedicated to the living nativity in Puglia, in the heart of the region
In Puglia true enthusiasts of this authentic art form are just spoiled for choice. Between Bari and Brindisi in particular you'll come across some of the most famous and appreciated living cribs, all within a few kilometers of each other.
Showcasing for a few days only, or for longer, they are all worth at least one stop.
An ideal itinerary can start for example from Conversano, where a stunning medieval nativity scene takes place, inspired by the first crib in history, the one coinceived by San Francesco d'Assisi in 1223.
Not far from here there is the small town of Casamassima, where you will find a wonderful ancient village. The fifteen years old living crib set up here is relatively young compared to others, but no less spectacular.
Gorgeous Alberobello is just a little further south. This small town is famous for its trulli, the typical white houses with cone-shaped roofs. A must see in Italy every single day, at Christmas it becomes the set of a magnificent living crib, made even more magical by the light installations that make up a special crib of light.
Finally, in the province of Brindisi, there is the village of Pezze di Greco that will enchant you with a truly unique spectacle. A complex of caves born two million years ago and adapted over the centuries to be used as homes, become for a few days the set of an unmissable nativity scene where the local populations turns into actors to show you the peasant civilization of the 19th century.
In Salento to get to know the magic of the living nativity in Puglia
Salento is one of the most popular Italian destinations for summer holidays, but traveling to southern Puglia at Christmas is an endless discovery of places, traditions and atmospheres that have no equal, far from mass tourism.
You will find yourself in an ancient land, where history and traditions are more alive than ever. An example above all is Caprarica di Lecce. Here you will find the only living nativity in Puglia, or in Italy, framed by centuries of history. It is indeed set up inside the archeological site of Kalòs, where the remains of buildings from different eras can be found, dating back to the Bronze Age or even prior to it.
Another nativity scene to visit in Salento is in Specchia, once again in the province of Lecce. The set-up takes place in the narrow streets and churches of what has rightly been named one of the most beautiful villages in Italy.
But the Salento's Christmas has yet another surprise.
Italy's Bethlehem is at Tricase
In the lower Salento, in the province of Lecce, is the village of Tricase, nestled along the side of a hill called Monte Orco. Here takes place possibly the most important living nativity in Puglia, that is also among the most loved in Italy. It contends with Matera's one for the record of being the largest. With more than forty years of seniority this crib is also among the longest-lived.
The living nativity scene of Tricase is not only the perfect opportunity to savor all the magic of Christmas, but it is also an authentic spectacle in which you can easily find the atmosphere and suggestions of Bethlehem at the time of the birth of Jesus, merged with those of ancient Puglia.
Hundreds of extras reproduce fifty scenes to narrate the world as it was two thousand years ago but also to keep alive the best local traditions. Along a route of about 2 km you will get the chance to see in person the ancient crafts or taste the many typical products of the excellent local gastronomy.
The crib and the tree touch everyone's heart, even of those who don't believe, because they both speak of fraternity, intimacy and friendship.