Vita Gazette

News from Italy

Manarola: largest illuminated nativity scene in the world

Anna Maria Tardiolo– Inserted in the enchanted setting of the Cinque Terre, Manarola, the second seaside village coming from La Spezia, every year for just over a month starting from 8 December, lights up its hill with the nativity scene largest luminous in the world.

In the darkness of the evening the 17 thousand light bulbs that give it light reflect theoutlines of the 300 life-size figures that compose it in the waters surrounding Manarola. As in one of the mos t beautiful paintings ever made, the scenery offered by nature and human ingenuity merge creating an open-air work that leaves the viewer breathless. The colorful houses of the village, the straits paved alleys that climb the promontory are the background to the project conceived and built the following year for over sixty years by Mario Andreoli. This ingenious man undertook the construction of the nativity scene almost by chance in 1976. To better understand it is necessary to take a small step back:

Cinque Terre villages are villages of fishermen but also of farmers. On the hills that surround them as in an embrace, vineyards and olive groves overlooking the sea have been cultivated for centuries. A very hard job if only for the difficulty of reaching the terraces that reach up to 400 meters above the level of the sea. Oil and wine of refined food and wine production, the result of the great dedication of farmers. Over the centuries, the inhabitants had placed three wooden crosses on the hill of Manarola to which they were they brought after the wine harvest to thank them for what they had received. Among these were also the parents of Mr. Mario Andreoli. On the death of his father, to pay homage to his memory, he decided to illuminate the cross of iron which in the meantime had been placed on the top of the hill, with the light of a car battery. His idea he was welcomed with enthusiasm and gradually the project of a more luminous work made space in him large dimensions: the bright nativity scene! Starting from the project of a hut and a few realized figures with waste and recycled materials, the project grew year after year until it was included in the 2007 in the Guinness Book of Records as the largest luminous nativity scene in the world and the following year thanks to a photovoltaic system built on purpose also became ecological.

The result we are witnessing today it’s amazing! A continuous conversation between art and nature: the first conceived and created in respect of second and the latter which responds to art by offering landscapes of unspeakable beauty as a frame. Know then that the luminous Nativity scene is a work in constant evolution pushes us to return every year to discover the new figures introduced, to climb up the stepped path that leads up to the top of the hill, to closely observe the figures of the nativity scene. When, finally, we reach the hut of the nativity and there we are time to observe the Nativity scene from above, the scenery that opens up before the eyes repays all the effort made to get here: the sea studded with the lights of the 300 figures as if it were the reflection of the starry sky, the village of Manarola on the left with its houses built on the spur so close to each other that they don’t not even guess the presence of the alleys that divide them; the silence all around that screams the magic of Christmas yes it releases by investing every grain of this magnificent territory and inevitably the visitors… 

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