Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas and New Year’s in the picturesque boroughs of the Tuscany coast

There are many small boroughs in the near inlands of the coast of Tuscany spread out among the Provinces of Massa Carrara, Lucca, Pisa, Leghorn and Grosseto and they are there waiting to be discovered in their most picturesque period: the Christmas holidays.
The Tuscany coastal area and the islands of the Archipelago become a stage of colors, sounds and aromas in the midst of the Christmas air with their Christmas markets, concerts, shows and events. In particular, many townships renew the ancient tradition of Saint Francis of Assisi: the Nativity Scene. Just as the “poor man of Assisi” recreated the first Nativity scene in 1223 in Greccio giving origin to this Italian tradition, today the moving reliving of the birth of Jesus is presented in Massa with the mechanical Nativity Scene at the Rocca and in an exceptional exhibit with Nativity Scenes from the entire world held at Villecchia di Tresana. From December 24th to the 27th, In Equi Terme 100 people and a town entirely lighted by torches and candles journey through the narrow streets to a stream and from there to a grotto all while reading verses from the Bible. And there are “living” Nativity Scenes in various other locations in the Province of Massa Carrara such as Caprigliola di Aulla; Vico di Bagnone; Ponzanello di Fosdinovo; Cinquale and Pontremoli, where there is a review of Nativity Scenes.
An animated, mechanical Nativity Scene reproduces the Versilia during the early 1900s in Serravezza and in Stazzema there is a Nativity Scene in the middle of a fairytale scenario with the “actors” in medieval costumes. Again in the Province of Lucca, the Ghivizzano Castle hosts a living Nativity Scene with the local people acting out the various roles for the Epiphany. This initiative is in the ambit of “Coreglia the Land of Nativity Scenes”, which began on December 6th 2009 and will run until January 6th 2010. An exhibit of one thousand Nativity Scenes is in Guardistallo, in the Province of Pisa, until January 6th. The Scenes on exhibit have been created by the families of the township using “poor” materials such as papier-mâché, plastic, terracotta and cardboard. There is a “growing” Nativity Scene inside the Church of Saint Augustine in Nicosia with new statues, all at least seventy centimeters high, made of plaster and dressed in real clothing, are added on every year. In Lari, people visiting the Nativity Scene enter into a magical atmosphere while walking through the small streets lighted by the torches and the open craft shops. While buying the typical sweets, the people can watch the census, the dispute between the Roman soldiers and Harod and follow the sheepherders and their flocks towards the Nativity grotto. The Three Kings leave the various districts of the town by horse and the worshippers follow them. A natural-life size and very realistic Nativity Scene is set up in the Mary Mother of Children Sanctuary in Cigoli and visitors can enter it and become charmed by the water and light effects. Pontedera is literally “full” of Nativity Scenes with one in every church and town neighborhood. A spectacular show is in Rossignano Marittimo, in the Province of Livorno, where from December 24th to the 27th 250 people recreate a new Bethlehem among the small paved streets and the remains of the Castle. There are Roman soldiers, horsemen, sheepherders, merchants, cows, donkeys and sheep and a reconstruction of the Nativity of Jesus that is loyal to the story narrated by the Evangelists. A Nativity Scene is recreated in Castel del Piano, in the Province of Grosseto and in the heart of the Maremma area, in the Poggio locality among the small and narrow streets. Rio, on the Island of Elba, also has its living Nativity Scene and in Marciana Marina there is an exhibit with works created by local residents. Source

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