Last year’s living crib (where Christ’s nativity is re-enacted by local villagers) at Pieve di Monti di Villa was one of the supreme successes of Bagni di Lucca’s Christmas season. Everyone agreed that it was well-organised, had something for everyone and, best of all, imparted true Christmas spirit.
As part of the efforts of the three parishes of Pieve di Monti di Villa, Monti di Villa and Granaiola to present the event it was Granaiola’s turn to host this year’s living crib, the first parish to have re-started, in 2012, this old Italian tradition which dates back to Saint Francis’ efforts at Greccio (see my post at https://longoio2.wordpress.com/2014/12/06/im-not-dreaming-of-a-pink-christmas/).
Would it be a hard act to follow? Not at all. The event was again very nicely organised, with an excellent shuttle bus service both to and from Ponte a Serraglio and Monti di Villa, and free entrance with a non-compulsory Gospel-style census (just really to find out how many people attended the event) at the entrance to the sweet village of Granaiola which provided a totally apt setting.
There was a lovely nativity with Joseph and Mary coming to their humble stable which must have pleased the donkey no end.
Musicians, including bagpipers so closely associated with the presepe tradition, (shepherds from the mountains would descend with their pipes in many parts of Italy for the Christmas midnight Mass) abounded.
Local crafts were well-demonstrated.
I was particularly intrigued by the wooden puzzles this young fellow had concocted – enough to test one’s lateral thinking powers to the utmost…
Food and drink was plentiful and included necci, pizze, mondine, pasta fritta, and tigelle but I kept my stomach empty for I would be attending a Borgo degli Artisti Christmas supper at la Ruota restaurant later that evening.
The Three Magi eventually arrived after a hard journey and bearing their gifts. Remembering T. S. Eliot’s fine poem on the same subject this village was certainly not charging high prices.
The fireworks display was quite overwhelmingly spectacular and, since it took place at close quarters and in a village free from excess of artificial lights, the effect was better than that of the larger displays one gets in urban centres.
There was a very good presence for the event and the atmosphere was most convivial:
Well done to everyone concerned. It was a splendid effort and I shall look forwards to seeing how Monti di Villa will follow on next year with our area’s jewel-in-the-crown circulating presepe. It’s all thanks to an idea by Settimo Martinelli from Pieve di Monti di Villa and the cooperation of the villagers that these delightful efforts can happen and prepare us for the birth, indeed the re-birth, the heart of winter promises.