The exhibition has been open for the past month in the Galleria Comunale in Barga Vecchia but just before they close the doors for the last time, a quick glimpse of the sterling work of Luigi Renucci and Paolo Bertoncini for the readers of barganews.
They have been constructing Presepe for some time but the exhibition is not just of single presepe – single cribs but a large scale presepe including scaled down versions of the mountains around the city.
The encyclopedia description of the Presepio is a three dimensional representation of the birth of Jesus Christ, composed of mobile figures arranged according to the artistic sense of the builder as well as realistic elements such as houses, rocks, plants etc.
As such the Presepio is closely related to the theatre because it intends to render an event remote in time and space present and real by means of fiction of a spectacular nature and at the same time, like the theatre, it cannot be separated from the scenery.
Normally the presepio contains about ten characters Mary, Joseph, the baby Jesus, the three wise men, a shepherd and a few animals but here in Barga, builders also manage to slip in (almost) unnoticed modern plastic figures.
Prizes are given in Barga for the best presepe. Each year the presentation ceremony fills the Palazzo Pancrazi with eager people being awarded their winning cups (article here)
Traditionally, the main focus of Christmas decorations in Italy is the presepe (the word presepio is also used), meaning Nativity scene or creche. Nearly every church will have a presepe and they are often found outdoors in a square or other public area as well. Displays often go beyond just the nativity scene and may even include a representation of the entire village or a part of the town. Presepi are usually set up for about a month, starting around December 8, the Feast Day of the Immaculate Conception.
Many people set up a small Christmas crib in their house and figurines . Although the presepe is usually set up before Christmas, the baby Jesus is added to the nativity on Christmas Eve.
The Nativity scene or Christmas crib is said to have originated with St. Francis of Assisi in 1223 although he may not have been the first to construct one, he started the tradition when he constructed a nativity scene out of straw in a cave in the town of Greccio and held Christmas Eve mass there. Carving figurines for nativity scenes started in the 13th century.
Il termine presepe (o più correttamente, come riportato nella maggior parte dei dizionari, presepio) deriva dal latino praesaepe, cioè greppia, mangiatoia, composto da prae = innanzi e saepes = recinto, ovvero luogo che ha davanti un recinto. Nel significato comune il presepe indica la scena della nascita di Cristo, derivata dalle sacre rappresentazioni medievali – source