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The Cinque Terre Nativity Scene lighting will take place today, December 8th, as every year.

Usually, after a full day of celebrations, at sunset we attended to an impressive torchlight procession leading to the Three Crosses Hill and at 5.30 p.m. the 15.000 lights gave life to hundreds of characters while the sky above Manarola got lit by fireworks overlooking the sea.

A touching and amazing performance. This year, due to Covid-19 restrictions, we will be attending online and it will be special. So, let’s virtually meet here at 5 p.m. (Italian time)!

Cinque Terre Lighting Nativity Scene

Mario, the Cinque Terre Nativity Scene creator

A few years ago I spent a full morning with Mario Andreoli, one of the sweetest and most passionate men I’ve ever met. Thanks to his determination and passion thousands of people experience every year the miracle of his giant Nativity Scene.

Thousands of lights giving life to more than 300 characters scattered all over Mario’s terraced hill overhanging Manarola and the Ligurian sea.

The world’s biggest nativity scene began with one single cross in 1961 when Mario’s dad made him promise to rebuilt the ancient Via Crucis pilgrim’s cross that used to stand in the middle of the family vineyard and so he did and the inhabitants of Manarola started walking up there like in ancient time.

The following year he added the two side crosses and the following one the nativity hut with the Holy Family.

Gradually, Christmas after Christmas, Mario started adding shepherds, sheep, lambs, fishes… a riot of characters, all built exclusively with recycled materials and illuminated by miles of electric cable laid from this passionate and tenacious retired railwayman.

He did everything by myself. He gave to his small village by the sea the best of presents: something unique.

He is now in his eighties and the volunteers of the local CAI (i.e. Italian Alpine Club) started helping him with the installation, so that now he doesn’t have to run downhill till the church esplanade to check for the result before climbing back up and eventually adjust some details.

The Cinque Terre National Park also started giving him some economic support and should now provide for the electricity.

Mario is a forever-young old man, whose passion is keeping him alive and who, with tears in his (and my) eyes, reminded me that money is important, but a satisfaction is something unbeatable.

Visiting Manarola Nativity Scene on regular years

Manarola Nativity Scene will be lighted every day at 5:30 p.m., till mid January, and the Cinque Terre National Park should also plans guided walking tour through this very special vineyard during the Holiday Season.

You can reach the village by train, with the Cinque Terre Express, or hiking from Corniglia, a 2h stunning walk through the hamlet of Volastra, crossing a bit of forest and the terraced vineyards overlooking the sea and the other villages.

Once in Manarola, go enjoy the view of its tiny marina and the beautiful short waterfront promenade, and right after walk up to the church. Its esplanade is the best viewpoint to admire the Nativity Scene and take cool night pictures.

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Silvia's Trips

Hi there! My name is Silvia and after 15 years between the Paris Opera and the Palau de les Arts in Valencia I now run a boutique hotel in Cinque Terre, deal with tourism management and blogging, sail, horse-ride, play guitar and write about my solo trips around the world. For more info about me and my travel blog check my full bio.

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