Anne's Blog

San Pellegrino di Norcia: a Missing Link This Christmas

Date: December 21, 2016 - categories: , , - Leave your thoughts

Like many an Umbrian mountain village, the townspeople of San Pellegrino di Norcia generally celebrate Christmas by bringing it to life – literally! – enacting a “living manger scene” (presepe vivente) on December 24th and then again on Dec 25th, 26th – and on January 6th when the Kings bring gifts to the Christ Child. The presepe vivente is a sacred Umbrian tradition, born with St. Francis of Assisi in 1223.

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Lacerated by the August 24th 2016 earthquake, the October 30th tremor (stronger) devastated the town, destroying the 13th-c bellower and 70% of the homes. San Pellegrino is now zona rossa (“red zone”) with no access to anyone permitted.

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As we near Christmastime, the sanpellegrinesi – now in modular homes, tents – must be reflecting that last year at this time, they were turning their village into Bethlehem, sewing Biblical costumes, spreading out straw in the stall, re-creating the shops of the baker, the weaver, the wood-carver, the leather-maker and all the local artisans of Bethlehem. The children were all excited about acting out their parts and the elderly probably musing about how cold it might be that night dressed in meagre togas and tunics.

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But if cold, they knew they could always head to the inn, an integral part of every presepe vivente. And the innkeeper serves hot mulled wine – to the visitors, too.

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Visitors will be taking in the presepi viventi all over Umbria this year, too. But not in San Pellegrino di Norcia this year. Let us hope that the “living manger scene” will LIVE again there – next year?

Read more about San Pellegrino – and see the quake damage
Read about the “living manger scene” all over Umbria
Read about Christmas simplicity in Umbria
Click here to find out how to help earthquake restoration
See San Pellegrino’s earthquake damage here
Click here to see Prime Minister Renzi’s visit to the San Pellegrino tent camp
Read about a favorite spot in nearby Castelluccio
Read one reason Norcia is so noted
Click here to read about Preci
Click here to read about Visso
Read more about benefit dinners for Amatrice

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Agenzia Viaggi Stoppini in Assisi handles all technical support for my guided visits (bus transportation, organization of meals, etc)