Ligurian Nativity Scenes Pocket Guide

 As tradition dictates, on December 8th, the hour of the nativity scene begins. To ensure you’re not caught unprepared, here’s a practical guide to discover the most beautiful nativity scenes in Liguria that you absolutely must visit!

Liguria, with its villages, becomes a mass of nativity scenes at Christmas. If you’re looking for the most beautiful markets and the main Christmas events in Liguria, discover them here! If you want to explore the ancient tradition of Confeugo in Liguria, here’s where to see it.

Presepe Sant'Agata a Imperia
Sant’Agata Nativity Scene in Imperia

Imperia and Surrounding

Maragliano Nativity Scene

Among the most celebrated and important nativity scenes in Liguria is the Maragliano Nativity in Imperia, set up in the Collegio palace in Piazza Duomo. It features 113 statues by the seventeenth-century Genoese master Anton Maria Maragliano. Shepherds, farmers, the Three Wise Men, and the Holy Nativity were commissioned in the first half of the eighteenth century by the Berio di Porto Maurizio family, giving the region and the entire country a work of immeasurable value and artistic excellence. The opening is scheduled for Thursday, December 7th, starting at 5 PM.

The Nativity of Borgo Peri in Imperia

A must-see for every nativity enthusiast is the setup of Borgo Peri in Oneglia, a masterpiece of tradition created by the Confraternity of San Martino and carefully preserved inside the church of Our Lady of Loreto. The nativity can be visited from Sunday, December 24th, to Sunday, January 7th, 2024, during the following hours: from 10AM to 12PM and from 3PM to 6PM everyday except on Christmas, when it will be open exclusively from 10AM to 12PM.

“Presepiando” in Dolceacqua

As every respectable December, the “Presepiando Festival” will involve the village of Dolceacqua this year in a competition for nativities of every material, size, and type. Among the great novelties of the 2023 edition, the addition of Christmas decorations to the categories of a contest that will colour the streets of the citadel halfway between France and Italy. All setups must be prepared in shop windows or in any other place clearly visible to passersby, respecting the deadline set for Friday, December 15th. The award ceremony is scheduled for Saturday, January 6th, 2024, at 6PM in the spaces of the Multipurpose Hall of the Municipality of Dolceacqua, an event that will officially close the Christmas festivities.

The Artistic Nativity of Diano Marina

Another great example of Ligurian nativity art is the artistic nativity preserved in the Oratory of the SS. Annunziata of Diano Marina. The installation, composed of houses and scenographies recalling Liguria and its main peculiarities, will be visible from Saturday, December 23rd, to Monday, January 8th, 2024.

Following the Star in Cervo

Another year for an unmissable appointment with the “Following the Star” competition, which awaits nativity enthusiasts and artists to transform the Ligurian village into a suggestive open-air nativity itinerary. Among narrow alleys and promenades, the town of Cervo will be filled with nativity scenes expressing the personality of their creators. To participate, it’s necessary to fill out the membership form and exhibit your nativity by Friday, December 8th.

Presepe meccanico di Luceto
Mechanical nativity display in Luceto

Savona and Surrounding

Piana Crixia Nativity Scene

In its third edition, the rustic sacred setup of Val Bormida represents one of the most suggestive nativities in the region. Immersed in the natural beauty of a unique area, you can discover the habits, stories, and traditions of the community that has inhabited Piana Crixia for generations. Alongside nativity scenes, scenes of daily life from a rediscoverable past should also be present, featuring a fascinating mix of shepherds, Wise Men, and ancient trades reproduced on a life-size scale.

The Living Nativity of Calizzano

The small town of Calizzano, nestled in the green hinterland of Savona, awaits you for an unforgettable Christmas Eve. Starting from 8:30PM on Sunday, December 24th, the traditional living nativity will return to the Church of San Lorenzo, accompanying the Holy Mass from 9:30PM. After the religious service and a touching moment of reflection, the local community will invite you to a Christmas toast with a family flavour.

The Living Nativity of Roccavignale

A short distance from Millesimo lies the county of Roccavignale, a small scattered municipality that has been staging a unique living nativity since 1982. The itinerant nature of the event has taken on an increasingly prominent role, attracting the curious and enthusiasts from across the region. For the 41st edition, the ancient artisanal village will open its doors at 7:30PM from Friday, December 22nd, to Sunday, December 24th, reliving the main events of the nativity through performances, “historical encounters,” and tastings of local specialties.

The Living Nativity of Feglino

To celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Madonna’s apparition on Colle del Pra, the living nativity of the Feglino community will be set in the “miraculous” year 1874. On the evenings of Saturday, December 23rd, and Sunday, December 24th, ancient dances and Occitan foods, traditional crafts, and characters from the era await you for an eve between dream and reality. The event will conclude with the Midnight Mass, a ceremony in which attendees will welcome Christmas immersed in the wonder of the Savona hinterland.

The Living Nativity of Loano

On Sunday, December 24th, the Vecchia Loano Association is ready for a Christmas Eve in its narrow streets and the historic centre. Bazaars, historical reenactments, demonstrations of ancient crafts, and shows with an ancient flavour will animate the village of Loano, all lit by suggestive torches scattered through the alleys. At the end of the event, participants can attend the Midnight Mass in the church of San Giovanni Battista.

The Living Nativity of Luceto

From Friday, December 8th, to Sunday, January 14th, the magic of Christmas will also touch Albisola Superiore. Specifically, the county of Luceto awaits the curious and enthusiasts in the Church of San Matteo with a spectacular mechanical nativity characterised by over 500 traditional statuettes (note: Albisola macaques) and 40 elements moved by gears and mechanisms hidden from the visitors’ view.

The Permanent Mechanical Navity Scene of Urbe

The small scattered municipality of Urbe, in the hinterland of Savona, is one of the main points of reference for mechanised nativity art in Liguria. The church of San Giovanni Gualberto in the county of Vara Inferiore hides a treasure that is more unique than rare: a permanent and functioning mechanised nativity throughout the year, with effects reproducing the main weather events, sunset and sunrise, the flow of water from waterfalls and streams, and even the appearance of angels. At Christmas, nativities assume an even greater charm, so don’t miss this opportunity and hurry to visit Urbe’s nativity!

Viganego, Bargagli, presepe nel bosco. Ph_Davide Papalini
Viganego, Bargagli, Nativity Scene in the woods. Ph_Davide Papalini

Genova and Surrounding

Are you eager to discover the wonder of some of the most beautiful nativities in Genoa and its surroundings? Here’s an unmissable guide to visit them all!

The Nativity at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Gazzo

Nestled in the nature of the hills of Sestri Ponente and Cornigliano, the seventeenth-century Sanctuary of Our Lady of Gazzo reveals the beauty of its original nativity to visitors. Among the peculiarities of the setup are shepherds, Wise Men, and travellers, statuettes made from pieces of marine plywood, a rigid and lightweight multilayer wood, highly resistant to humidity.

The Maritime Nativity of Boccadasse

The famous Genoese fishing village also welcomes Christmas with light displays and a nativity set up on a traditional boat moored in Piazza Nettuno. The scenes of the Nativity will be reproduced inside the vessel, amid lights, Christmas decorations, and some fake gifts.

The Valley of Nativity Scenes in Ceranesi

Starting from Friday, December 8th, the municipality of Ceranesi and the Valpolcevera inaugurate the 2nd edition of “La Valle dei Presepi,” an itinerant event that will guide spectators from all over Liguria to discover the nativity riches of the territory until Monday, January 8th, 2024. Among the not-to-be-missed events is the inauguration of the Presepio di Geo, an artistic installation of incredible value with reproductions of natural elements, from rivers to the alternation of day and night, to typical Ligurian details such as miniature bakeries with focaccias!

The Life-Size Nativity of Pentema

Also this year, starting from Friday, December 8th, the famous Nativity of Pentema will be visitable in the small village of the Genoese area. The traditional life-size shepherds and the beauty of costumes, accessories, and meticulously curated settings will offer the opportunity to travel back in time, rediscovering the customs and traditions of a bygone era. Specifically, the setup will be visitable from 10 AM to 5 PM on the Immaculate weekend (December 8-9-10), Saturday, December 16, and Sunday, December 17, from Saturday, December 23, to Sunday, January 7, and finally on Saturday, January 13, and Sunday, January 14, 2024.

The Luminous Nativity of Masone

The village of Masone, one of the most beautiful in Italy, will kick off the Christmas festivities with the lighting of the famous Luminous Nativity on the hill of Berté. At dusk on Friday, December 8th, 120 life-size shepherds will illuminate the hill, immersing those present in a dreamlike atmosphere in the presence of Cardinal Bagnasco. On the same day, at 3:30 PM, the Mechanised Nativity at the Civic Museum A. Tubino will also be inaugurated, while on Sunday, December 17th, the Historic Centre will be animated by markets, performers of the Living Nativity, and the traditional Confuego.

The Living Nativity of the Little Ones in Chiavari

If what you seek is the tenderness of Christmas, the living nativity of Chiavari is just right for you! At 3:30 PM on Saturday, December 16th, the little students of Maria Luigia School await you in Piazza Mazzini for an unmissable show that will tell the nativity from the eyes of a child.

Articolo Il presepe di Manarola

La Spezia and Surrounding

The luminous Nativity scene of Manarola

If the Cinque Terre already amazed you in the summer, get ready to be astonished in winter too! From Friday, December 8th, the hill of Manarola will light up with the luminous images of the Nativity, offering an unmissable spectacle from both land and sea. The light installation will be visible every day until January 14th, from sunset until 10PM on weekdays and until midnight on Saturdays and Sundays.

The Living Nativity of Vezzano Ligure

On Saturday, December 16th, and Sunday, December 17th, don’t miss the wonder of the sacred reenactment of the Nativity in Vezzano Ligure. From 5PM to 8PM, the Pro Loco and the association Vezzano sotto la torre await you in the streets of the centre with the living nativity and numerous related activities, from tasting local specialties to activities for the little ones.

The Living Nativity of Monterosso

Who said that the Cinque Terre are beautiful only in the summer? This winter, Monterosso is ready to welcome Christmas with a captivating living nativity not to be missed. On Saturday, December 9th, the colourful village will come to life with an unforgettable spectacle, featuring performers animating the streets of the centre, with music and lights just steps away from the sea.