The Nativity Scene of Manarola
The idea behind this Nativity scene, which extends over the hill of the “Tre Croci” in Manarola, Cinque Terre, comes from the hands and imagination of Mario Andreoli. It stems from his will and tenacity, and from his cellar, affectionately known as the sacristy.
About the tradition
Mario’s “secular sacristy” is a must-visit during your stay in Cinque Terre. As soon as you enter, on the right, you will be faced with a collage of photographs attached to the wall. These depict all the personalities—from the political and entertainment world to ordinary people—who have passed through here over the years, always welcomed by Mario with a smile. The magic of the Nativity scene takes shape within these walls. The statues created by the skilled hands of the artist are all made from recycled materials, to which Mario manages to give new life. Transforming waste into art is one of his many talents.
In this unique cellar, you can also taste his wine, the “sciacchetrà” (his pride is the red one, the Cannaiolo, “the one for the ladies,” as he often says). Mario’s main characteristic is undoubtedly his persistence; despite the passage of time and advancing age, every year, he manages to illuminate the hill of the village with his spectacular creations, thanks to his willpower and the help of some volunteers.
The lighting of the Nativity scene is one of the most anticipated moments of the year. Being able to witness this event is a unique emotion: lights and colours merge with the beauty of the landscape, creating a captivating spectacle. A true festive day, for both young and old, capable of attracting visitors from around the world every year. By now, the illuminated statues are part of the landscape, like the dry stone walls and the paths that cross the Cinque Terre.
This magical tradition turns 62 in 2023: since the crazy experiment that, with car batteries, illuminated some crosses on the hill for the first time, in the darkness of a village where public lighting was not yet present.
The secret potion for the long life of the Manarola Nativity scene, besides its tireless creator, also involves the association “Il presepe di Mario Andreoli,” born with the intention of continuing this enchanting tradition. Don’t miss the opportunity, on December 8th, to witness the lighting of the famous Nativity scene, capable of warming all hearts even in the coldest period of the year.