Italians are crazy about presepi (Nativity scenes) – almost every Italian home is sure to have at least one if not more on display during the Christmas holidays. If you’d like to see a variety of these small works of art, visit Rome’s Museo del Presepio, run by the Italian Association of Friends of the Nativity, which was founded in Rome in 1953, with the mission of keeping alive the tradition of the crib. (See our Italian Christmas Cards featuring Rome)
The museum contains over 3,000 figures from all the regions of Italy as well as from many other nations. The pieces show various interpretations of the Nativity, and are made of many different types of materials, including in paper, Sicilian clay, wood, ceramics, glass, stone, coal, cloth, and even marzipan and eggs!
Between December 25 and January 6, the museum is open on weekdays between 5 and 8 p.m. and on holidays, between 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. and 5 and 8 p.m. The Feast of St. Stephen on December 26 is a popular day for Italians to view presepi. If you’re not in Rome during the holiday season but still want to visit the museum, you can do so on Wednesday and Saturday, 5 to 8 p.m. The museum is closed July and August. Museo del Presepio is located inside the Church of Ss. Quirico e Giulitta at Via Tor de’Coni, 31/A. — Frances Kidd