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A guide to living nativity scenes in Emilia-Romagna

by /// December 5, 2022
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes



I must confess: I have always fancied the living nativity scenes. My father initiated me to these representations when I was young, and, be it for the scenery or for the strange clothes when I first saw one of them, I was left speechless. Still today, Nativity scenes evoke in me the same feelings of that very first time.

Saving the wonder of that moment, I tried to write down a list of the most suggestive living nativity scenes in Emilia-Romagna that you can admire with your own eyes during winter holidays. If by chance I missed some of them, please let me know in the comments below: I’ll be more than happy to add them to the list!

I took for granted that everybody knows what a living nativity scene is, but, just in case you were wondering, here is a quick recap: it’s an ancient Christian tradition, whose first testimony dates back to St. Francis (1223), and consists in the representation of the birth of Jesus (and related events) with human actors.

Rivalta (PC)

Where: Rivalta, Val Trebbia (PC)
When: Saturday December 24th 2022, from 10pm
Admission: free

Presepe vivente di Rivalta (PC)
Living nativity scene in Rivalta (PC)

In Rivalta, a charming village on the banks of the Trebbia river, the traditional appointment with the Living Nativity Scene returns this year on Christmas Eve evening. Over 120 screenwriters stage the Nativity: the arrival of the shepherds, the procession of King Herod, and the arrival of Mary and Joseph with the donkey.
The procession ends with the Holy Mass, and then goes to the manger for the adoration of Jesus.

Reggio Emilia

Where: Reggio Emilia | Piazza San Prospero
When: Sunday December 18th 2022, from 4pm to 5pm
Admission: free

presepe vivente reggio emilia
Living nativity scene in Reggio Emilia

The living nativity scene of Reggio Emilia, organized by the AVSI foundation (Volunteer Association for International Service), is back again this year, a fixed appointment for the city.
The event of the birth of Jesus comes to life through the representation of the most significant moments accompanied by music, songs, dances, and by all the people who follow him.

Discover the route maps and the locations of the scenes represented.

Fanano (MO)

Where: Fanano (Modena Apennines)
When: Saturday December 24th 2022 and Thursday January 5th 2023, from 6pm, start of procession at 10pm
Admission: free

Fanano (MO) - Presepe Vivente
Living nativity scene in Fanano (MO)

This year, like every two years, the appointment with the evocative representation of the Nativity and ancient crafts along the streets of the town returns to the historic village of Fanano.

From 6pm the village, set up like the “Fanano of the past” and lit only by soft torches, fills up with over 250 figurants showing the ancient crafts: for some it’s an opportunity to repeat the hard work of their grandparents learned when they where children, for others it’s instead the opportunity to bring their current work to the streets, carried out as in antiquity.

At 10pm the procession of the nativity starts; on December 24th at 11.00 pm the religious function is scheduled in the Church of San Silvestro; on January 5th, in addition to figures, you can also find some food stands, to taste the local products.

Classe (RA)

Where: Casa dei Ragazzi, Via Romea Sud 224, Classe
When: Saturday December 24th 2022, from 7pm to 11.30pm and Friday January 6th 2023, from 3pm to 6 pm
Admission: free

Presepe vivente di Classe (Ravenna) Ph. risveglioduemila
Living nativity scene in Classe (RA) Ph. risveglioduemila

Every year in Classe, a few kilometers from Ravenna, the reconstruction of Christmas night is held: the characters of the living nativity scene are interpreted by volunteers from the Classe community.

On Christmas Eve, at 11.45pm, the costumed procession goes to the Basilica of Sant’Apollinare in Classe for the midnight Holy Mass.
On the afternoon of the Epiphany, at 4.30pm, the Three Wise Men arrive on horseback bringing gifts to Jesus and to all the children.

Montefiore Conca (RN)

Where: Montefiore Conca (RN)
When: Monday December 26th and Thursday December 29th 2022 from 5pm to 7pm; Wednesday December 28th 2022 from 8.30pm tp 10pm
Admission: free

Presepe vivente Montefiore Conca (RN)
Living nativity scene in Montefiore Conca (RN)

In the heart of one of the most beautiful villages in Italy, Montefiore Conca, in the province of Rimini, the living nativity scene is back again this year, with the reconstruction of numerous life scenes related to the Nativity on 3 dates not to be missed.

The historic center is transformed into a small Bethlehem, enveloped in a suggestive atmosphere of religious significance; around the fortress arrive animals and shepherds, pipers, cultural performances and the reproduction of ancient crafts: a small and exciting open-air theater, with many opportunities to fill your eyes, and your heart, with the happiness of Christmas.


Davide Marino

Davide Marino was born archaeologist but ended up doing other things. Rational – but not methodic, slow – but passionate. A young enthusiast with grey hair

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