Discover the best Live Nativity Scenes Italy has to offer this year with this Italo guide to spending a memorable family weekend.
To experience the magic of Christmas, there is no better destination than visiting the live Nativity scenes, one of Italy’s oldest and most beloved Christmas traditions. Every year during yuletide, towns and cities transform themselves into outdoor theaters where realistic and magical representations of the Nativity are staged.
If you’re trying to decide where in Italy to travel for Christmas, there are so many ideas for you to consider, from a visit to the Trento Markets to the Christmas Markets of Verona, however, with this guide, we want to lead you to the discovery of ten of the most beautiful live Nativity scenes in Italy. In the unique settings of Italy, entire communities give life to the pageants recounting the birth of Jesus. It’s also a time for rediscovering age-old crafts, customs, and traditional local products.
Here are ten of the most beautiful live Nativity scenes Italy has to offer, all reachable by train travel with Italo:
- The live Nativity scene of San Biagio – Lombardy
- The live Nativity scene of Tenno – Trentino Alto Adige
- The live Nativity scene of Dogliani-Castello – Piedmont
- The live Nativity scene of Equi Terme – Tuscany
- The live Nativity scene from Greccio – Lazio
- The live Nativity scene of Civita di Bagnoregio – Lazio
- The live Nativity scene of Pietrelcina – Campania
- The 18th century live Nativity scene from Vaccheria – Campania
- The live Nativity scene of Tricase – Apulia
- The live Nativity scene of Gasperina – Calabria
1. The live Nativity scene of San Biagio – Lombardy
This live Nativity scene is in its 29th year. You can find it in via Chiesa, 30 in San Biagio in the province of Mantua. All you have to do is arrive at the athletic field adjacent to the parish church in an area of about 5000 square meters. It’s a truly unique atmosphere of reverent silence that gives you that magical feeling of Christmas. You can visit it on the 25 and 26 December 2022 and on 1, 6, 8 and 15 January 2023.
The event begins at 16:00 and you can walk around the town, admiring the craftsmen engaged in their artisan activities. There are about 60 live portrayals by play actors in numerous huts and stalls such as the innkeeper, the baker, fishermen, fish vendors, a barley roaster, the blacksmith, those who work weaving canes, fabric dyers, torch makers, candle makers, and yarn spinners.
At 17.00 begins the heart of Nativity pageant with extremely suggestive scenes such as the Annunciation, the Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth, the Annunciation of the Angel Gabriel to Joseph, the birth of Jesus, the adoration of the shepherds and the Magi followed by the splendid scene of the adoration of all others to the Holy Family. At least 150 people kneel in front of the Holy Family, and all are accompanied by sacred songs and readings in this scene of Bethlehem lit only by torch and lantern.
Admission is free.
Travel to Mantua with Italo
Set out for Mantua with Italo and enjoy the ease of traveling to more places thanks to the new combination tickets from Italo with Trenitalia regional trains. Discover all the new itineraries and connections and immediately buy your ticket on Italotreno. Before buying your ticket, remember to log in to your account to take advantage of Italo Più offers and rates for members only. If you haven’t already done so, you can register for free for the Italo Più Loyalty Program, and immediately get a 5% discount on your first trip and accumulate points on consecutive trips to earn free reward tickets.
2. The live Nativity scene of Tenno – Trentino Alto Adige
Experience the magic of the live Nativity scene of Tenno on the cliffs halfway between Lake Garda and the Alps. Arrive in the small medieval village of Canale di Tenno, in Trentino, one of the most beautiful villages in Italy, which for one day only, becomes a vast theater for the suggestive Nativity pageant. In this splendid village, the live Nativity scene is staged on Boxing Day, 26 December. Stroll through the cobbled streets of the town and admire the angels, the shepherds with their animals in tow, and the Holy Family housed in a stable in the village. Among the sweet melodies of Christmas carols you can see the olden crafts, customs and traditions of the past at work.
It is a truly evocative experience due to the particularity of the setting and the unforgettable scenes, that each visitor can come in touch with the spirit of Christmas.
Head to Rovereto with Italo
Reach Rovereto with the ease of Italo high-speed trains and then take the public transport to Trentino at Canale di Tenno, it takes less than an hour and a half. Visit the page regarding train timetables for Rovereto and buy your low-cost, modifiable ticket in advance. Don’t miss our guide to Christmas markets in Rovereto: a memorable experience!
3. The live Nativity scene of Dogliani-Castello – Piedmont
Started in 1975, this Nativity pageant has become a tradition in the picturesque village of Dogliani. Near its castle and the surrounding homes, you can attend the 48th edition of the live Nativity. The highly realistic setting of the event with leave a lasting impression on all who visit. The village is transformed into a remarkable, though slightly smaller, facsimile of the city of Bethlehem.
You can admire the houses that are decorated to resemble small shops where the old peasants, smiths, and artisans of a by-gone time go about their work, such as spinners, shepherds, grain threshers, blacksmiths, potters in these ancient bazaars.
You can attend this spectacular Nativity pageant in Dogliani Castello, on the evenings of the 23rd and 24th of December 2022, starting at 20:30.
Travel to Turin with Italo
Reach Turin by high-speed train on the many routes established by Italo from Salerno, Naples, Rome, Florence, Reggio Emilia, etc. Make use of the combination tickets from Italo, linking with the regional trains of Trenitalia, to discover even more itineraries and connections easily bought all at once on Italotreno.
4. The live Nativity scene of Equi Terme – Tuscany
In the county of Lunigiana, in the province of Massa Carrara, you will find the small village of Equi Terme, where you can appreciate the most traditional live Nativity scene in the Tuscany region. The route you will have to take to reach the Grotto of the Nativity is very suggestive, located in the famous Grotta di Equi Terme, this is a site of exceptional naturalistic and geological importance. The road you take to get to the grotto is lit entirely by torches and candles to create a breath-taking ambiance for this sacred scene!
The route to the Grotto is roughly 40 to 60 minutes and is transformed for the occasion Christmas Eve, 24 December, from 20:00 to 23:30 and then again on 25, 26 and 27 December from 18:00 to 21:00.
The cost of the ticket to visit the live Nativity scene is €5.
Head to Massa Carrara with Italo
Set out with Italo for Massa Carrara by making use of the combination tickets from Italo, in which Italo’s luxurious high-speed trains are linked with the regional trains of Trenitalia, which can easily be purchased all at once on Italotreno.
5. The live Nativity scene from Greccio – Lazio
Less than an hour and a half from Viterbo, in Greccio, the tradition of the live Nativity scene is one of the oldest in Italy. In 1223 it was, there, in Greccio that St. Francis set up the first Nativity scene in the world after having helped the medieval town from the threat of wolves. Francesco moved to a hut just outside Greccio and, admiring the landscape similar to the city of Bethlehem, he decided to re-propose the birth of Jesus in this very village carved into the rock.
According to the biographies of Saint Francis, inside a cave under the castle of the town, the lord of the castle had a manger built following the advice of the Saint. During a religious ceremony there a child appeared, and St. Francis took him in his arms. Since then, every year during the Christmas season this wonderful and evocative moment is recalled underneath the castle of the small town.
6. The live Nativity scene of Civita di Bagnoregio – Lazio
Yet another evocative Nativity scene near Viterbo can be found in Civita di Bagnoregio accompanied by the beautiful scenic atmosphere of the village. The Nativity comes to life, at sunset, on 26 December 2022, as well as 1, 6, 7, and 8 January 2023.
The Italian Red Cross of Bagnoregio and Lubriano traditionally carries out this initiative in collaboration with the Municipality of Bagnoregio and Casa Civita srl.
In order to arrive in Civita di Bagnoregio, you must cross the lengthy and iconic stone bridge, suspended in a void and surrounded by the breathtaking panorama of the Valle dei Calanchi. Upon entering the ancient town built into a dramatic outcrop of tufa rock, you have the vivid sensation of having gone back in time.
You can marvel at the ten unique scenes which, like a mosaic, reconstruct the birth of Jesus. From the Roman fort to Herod and the noble residences, to a Bedouin tribe, the craftsmen at work, the magi, the shepherds, the leper hospital, and finally the Nativity, there is an intertwining of colors, emotions, and beauty for a truly spectacular Christmas atmosphere.
An exceptional experience in its genre, capable of touching the tender emotions cherished during Christmas seasons.
Head to Viterbo with Italo
Set out with Italo for Viterbo by making use of the combination tickets from Italo, in which Italo’s luxurious high-speed trains are linked with the regional trains of Trenitalia, which can easily be purchased all at once on Italotreno. Don’t miss our guide to the 5 most beautiful villages in Italy, including Civita di Bagnoregio, the dying city.
7. The live Nativity scene of Pietrelcina – Campania
In order to see and a live Nativity scene has become a real institution, you just need to travel to Pietrelcina, the birthplace of Padre Pio, in the province of Benevento. This live representation of the Nativity that takes place in the small avenues and alleys of the village began in 1987, for the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the death of Padre Pio. Thanks to the yearly collaboration of over 200 people, this live Nativity has been able to maintain a high attention to detail and has created splendid, realistic and refined costumes, which are truly eye-catching.
The pageant involves many of the town’s residents who transform it into a small Bethlehem where you can admire all artisan shops, animals, the temple of the high priests, the Roman military garrison, the Synagogue and the grotto where the culminating scene of the Nativity with the Magi is displayed. It’s set up in the barn of the Forgione family, near the birthplace of Saint Pio.
The live Nativity scene of Pietrelcina will be staged on the 27, 28, and 29 December 2022. For more information, costs, online booking and tickets, go to presepeviventepietrelcina.it.
Head to Benevento with Italo
Travel to Benevento with Italo thanks to the many trains and then on to Pietrelcina. If you are fascinated by the beauty of ancient villages, discover our guide to ghost towns, including a village in the province of Benevento. What are you waiting for, immerse yourself in the spirit of Christmas? Book your ticket now and get ready to explore the wonders of Campania with Italo.
8. The 18th century live Nativity scene from Vaccheria – Campania
The historic, 18th-century, Neapolitan live Nativity scene in Vaccheria has held 25 active editions, the last one being in 2020. However, this year, as in 2021, only a few scenes will be staged due to lack of funds. The setting is no longer Vaccheria, the small hamlet 4 km from Caserta but in the Enchanted Garden of Santa Claus in Maria Carolina Park. The dates for viewing this historic live Nativity are the 8, 10, 11, 26 December 2022 and 6 and 8 January 2023.
The most suggestive of the several scenes depicted is that of the Nativity. It’s a sort of event within an event that you must see.
To view the scenes of the Nativity, tickets cost €11 which includes all the attractions of Maria Carolina Park.
Head to Caserta with Italo
Set out for Caserta with Italo’s high-speed train! Check out all timetables and prices of our trains to Caserta to arrive in viale Giulio Douhe, 2014, only a few steps from the Royal Palace. Do not miss our guide on how to visit the Royal Palace of Caserta in one day and for a small culinary treat, here is a guide to the 5 best pizzerias in Caserta.
9. The live Nativity scene of Tricase – Apulia
In the province of Lecce, you will find the beautiful town of Tricase, a summer destination that stands out for its marvelous natural pool in the sea rocks, one of the most beautiful in all of Italy, which during the Christmas season becomes a winter destination because of its renowned live Nativity reenactment.
This year the Tricase live Nativity is in its 41st edition and has been reenacted since 1976. What makes it unique is that it has a permanent structure open 365 days a year, located on the hillside of Monte Orco. The days of the live reenactment are the 25, 26, 28 and 30 December 2022 and 1, 3, 5 and 6 January 2023.
The tradition of the live Nativity is on display against a backdrop of ancient artisan crafts as well as the culinary and folkloric traditions of Capo di Leuca. While visiting the Nativity, you also experience the handiwork and elaborate processes of age-old trades up close and in a journey of about 2 kilometers interspersed with glittering lights and crackling hearths.
Additionally, in nearby Salento, another reenactment involving more than 200 people in costume who work as artisans, commoners, and farmers is a great way to conclude your visit to the area.
While viewing the live Nativity in Tricase don’t miss the extraordinary local tradesman at work such as the tanner of skins, a trade linked to the majestic Vallonea Oak of Tricase, or the rope maker, the weaver, the stonemason, the artists of papier-mâché, the miller and his wife. Furthermore, you can taste the local specialties such as pittule, a type of fried dough appetizer, and the local wines.
In short, the Nativity at Tricase is faithful to tradition and folklore and is one of the most awaited events of the year in Apulia.
Head to Lecce with Italo
Parti con Italo per Lecce e scopri le sue meraviglie e vivi un’esperienza di viaggio unica grazie alle nuove combinazioni di Italo con i treni regionali di Trenitalia. Scopri itinerari e collegamenti e acquista subito il tuo biglietto su Italotreno. Cosa aspetti? Da Lecce a Tricase ci vogliono meno di 40 minuti!
With Italo you can easily arrive in Lecce to discover its wonders and thanks to the new combination ticket from Italo that links its routes with Trenitalia regional trains. Discover all the itineraries and connections and instantly buy your ticket at Italotreno. What are you waiting for? Lecce to Tricase is less than 40 minutes by train!
10. The live Nativity scene of Gasperina – Calabria
If you want to fully experience the spirit of Christmas, travel to Gasperina in Calabria for the event Human Figures in the Humble Theme of the Live Nativity, Beyond Darknees, Light. This is the 20th year the nativity scene has been reenacted and it will be held on the 26 and 27 December, from 17:00 to 20.30 in Piazza E. Fermi in Gasperina.
The event was organized by the Il Sotterraneo Pro Gasperina A.P.S. Association, with the support of the Gasperine Associations and financed by the Calabria Region within the Calabria Extraordinary Project of the Department of Tourism, Territorial Marketing of the Region.
The staged performances for Beyond Darkness, Light are scheduled for 1 January 2023, in Piazza Fermi, from 17:00 to 20:30.
With Italo travel to Lamezia Terme
Parti con Italo con i tanti treni da e per Lamezia Terme da Milano o da Roma e arriva a Gasperina. Vivi la magia del presepe vivente in Calabria e scopri le meraviglie della sua terra. Prima di acquistare il tuo biglietto, ricordati di accedere sempre alla tua area riservata per usufruire anche delle Offerte Più, tariffe dedicate ai soli iscritti. Se non lo hai ancora fatto, puoi registrarti gratuitamente al Programma Fedeltà Italo Più, avrai subito il -5% di sconto sul tuo primo viaggio e in più accumuli punti con i tuoi viaggi per richiedere biglietti premio gratuiti.
Set out with Italo on any of the multiple trains to and from Lamezia Terme, such as from Milan or Rome to arrive in Gasperina. Experience the magic of the live Nativity scenes in Calabria and discover the wonders of the region. Before buying your ticket, remember to log in to your account to take advantage of the Italo Più offers and rates available to members only. If you haven’t already done so, you can register for free in the Italo Più Loyalty Program, and you will immediately get a 5% discount on your first trip and will accumulate points on future trips to earn free reward tickets.