Presepi d’Italia – Massa Martana

nativity scene in Umbria

A  true highlight of this holiday season was the near-by, outstanding Massa Martana National Nativity Scene Exhibition:  along the main road which winds and climbs through the small hamlet (nominated along with Bevagna and Montefalco as one of “Most Beautiful Small Towns in Italy”) there were 25 “stations” (medieval structures which were/are normally in disuse) that served as “grotte” , housing either a main nativity scene or several smaller ones.  Over 15 regions/provinces were represented by over 70 different artists, using a wide variety of media ranging from wood, carta pesta (papier maché), ceramic (glazed, enameled or grezzo) to embroidery, macramè, crochet, knitted wool.  Several scenes were inspired by major works of art (Adorations or Annunciations) by Gentile da Fabriano, Giorgione and Perugino.

a ceramic della Robbia style Annunciation

representing Tuscany:  a della Robbia style Annunciation

an embroidery nativity scene

Umbria:  a Punto Assisi embroidered-on-linen nativity scene

paper machè nativity scene

Umbria:  exquisitely crafted carta pesta  figures – detail of a nativity scene

wood carved nativity scene

 Fruili:  a bronzed wood carving nativity scene

Gentile da Fabriano nativity scene

Tuscany:  an amazingly detailed ceramic nativity scene inspired by Gentile da Fabriano

Gentile da Fabriano nativity scene

detail of the above

Nativity scene in Umbria

Piemonte:  the rustic carta pesta tradition of rural Piemonte

Perugino Nativity scene

 Veneto:  the gorgeous carta pesta nativity scene inspired by Perugino

Venetian style Nativity scene

 Veneto:  fantastic attention to detail in this Venetian scene, using a skillful combination of wood and carta pesta

Venetian style Nativity scene - detail

 detail of the above

Campania:  carta pesta in the Napoletan tradition

enameled ceramic nativity scene

Emilia Romagna:   an enameled/glazed ceramic “Three Wise Men” scene

This amazing event in Massa Martana is a popular annual tradition. The Presepi d’Italia event is on display from December 24 – Jan.6 with music, bonfires and vin brulè.  A delightful, truly enjoyable highlight of the Umbrian holiday season!




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