Atrani Transformed into a Christmas Presepe

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Christmas is a magical time on the Amalfi Coast. With its colorful lights and picturesque setting, Atrani is one of the most charming spots this time of year. It feels like you’re walking right through a traditional prespe, or nativity scene. This holiday season Atrani has created a unique and modern light show that plays on that theme. The town truly feels like a presepe! The light show was inspired by a poem “Atrani è nu prisepio” (“Atrani is a Presepe”) by local writer Enzo Del Pizzo. Stars dance across the beach, the town is lit up with multi-colored lights and on the mountain above town there’s a large projection with a vintage image of Atrani and lines of poetry.

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Come along through the tunnel into the quaint piazza Umberto I, which is full of lights and such a festive feel. There was even Christmas music playing throughout the town when we visited last night!

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The steps leading up to church of San Salvatore del Birecto are like a colorful tapestry with shimmery lights around. Later when we passed by there were kids and a dog playing in the lights on the steps. It was fun to see the children interacting with the lights throughout the town!

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A large Christmas tree decorates one side of Piazza Umberto I, and it’s covered with lights that match the decorative swags on the balconies around the piazza.

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Over by the steps leading up to the Maddalena church, the arches of the Amalfi Coast Road are lit up blue with glittering lights and more lines from the poem talking about the church and seeing the characteristic arches of Atrani.

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Many of the little alleyways through town were also lit up in different colors. We had the benefit of a tour from our friend Linda who lives in Atrani. She showed us all the best spots!

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Looking down on Piazza Umberto I, you can see my favorite part of the light display on the left. It is a design by artist M.C. Escher. Why an Escher design in Atrani? The artist spent time in Ravello and on the Amalfi Coast in 1923, which was when he met the woman who would become his wife, Jetta Umiker. With its labyrinthine alleys and twists and turns, it’s not surprising that Atrani appealed to Escher, who was inspired and made many drawings in the area.

The design in Atrani’s light display this year is from Escher’s work Metamorphasis II, where birds transform into cubes and then eventually into the town of Atrani. You can catch a glimpse of the lights (and soccer game) in action in the short video clip below.

If you are on the Amalfi Coast this Christmas, stop by Atrani to see the fun light display. You can also find out more about the tradition of Christmas nativities and see some in the fountains of Amalfi here!

Fountain Nativity Scenes in Amalfi

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The nativity scene has a long tradition in Italy. It was St. Francis of Assisi who has been credited with creating the very first presepe, or nativity, way back in the early 13th century. While nativities can take on a variety of shapes and sizes—from a scene created with miniature figures (like ours – it’s up high safe from our cats!) to elaborate living nativity scenes—it’s hard to deny that the most elaborate, creative and, yes let’s just say it, over the top come from the Naples area. That includes the Amalfi Coast! Here a presepe doesn’t just include Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus and host of usual figures like shepherds, wise men and perhaps a donkey and an ox. In the Neapolitan tradition, you’ve got to get the whole village involved. And usually in 18th century style. So that means you’ve got not just shepherds, but whole flocks of sheep. Plus, geese, mules, rabbits, ducks, chickens – the whole shebang. Of course, if you have a village, that village has to eat. So don’t forget the butcher, the baker, (probably a candlestick maker), the fishmonger, the restaurants and because we’re in Italy – the pizzeria. The village often includes houses, churches and, well, everything you can imagine needed to run a village. In the 18th century, that is. It’s a wonderful tradition, and I love how it involves ordinary people and everyday experiences into the holy events of the Christmas scene.

In Amalfi there are several large nativity scenes that are lovingly created each year. Two of them are located in and around fountains! Here’s a look at the two fountain nativity scenes in Amalfi this year. Don’t miss the video at the end!

 

De Cape ‘e Ciucci Fountain Presepe

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Located just off Amalfi’s main street in Piazza dello Spirito Santo is a fountain called De Cape ‘e Ciucci (pictured in the first photo at the top of this post). It was built in the 18th century and takes its colorful name from the donkeys (ciucci) that used to stop and drink there after carrying a heavy load down from the village of Pogerola high above Amalfi. Since 1974 it has been home to a presepe, which now you can see throughout the year since it usually isn’t taken down. This elaborate nativity scene is both above and below the water in the fountain, which is why in the nativity scene above you can see the central part of the scene scattered with coins.

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Above the water you’ll see the regular host of characters. I particularly like the pizzaiolo (pizza maker) reaching into the oven to pull out a pizza. And that woman at the Taberna got a mighty large tip!

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The sheep in this presepe are real mountain climbers. I don’t envy the shepherds who after look over that flock! Below water, there’s one extra character you’re not likely to see in most other nativity scenes. A goldfish!

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Largo Scario Presepe Fountain

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Just off the Amalfi Coast road as it goes through Amalfi is a pretty little square called Largo Scario, which is home to a fountain topped with a column and statue of the Madonna Immacolata. Usually, you’ll find the fountain full of turtles lounging around in the sunshine. For the Christmas season, the fountain is drained and the turtles transferred to a temporary and safe home. A presepe scene completely unique to Amalfi is then constructed in the fountain. This year the angels around the manger have the names of the new grandchildren in the family that creates the nativity scene – such a sweet personal touch!

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What makes this presepe so unique is that it is a representation of Amalfi. If you look close, the names of the shops and restaurants are all those in Amalfi!

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Among the shops you’ll see Pasticceria Leone, for instance, which is a great coffee shop and bakery on Amalfi’s main street.

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Look … there’s even a limoncello shop! How could you have a presepe in Amalfi without a limoncello shop?

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There’s also the Ristorante Marina Grande, which is located just across the street from where this fountain is located. There’s even a local painter and other characters representing Amalfi locals.

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Amalfi Nativity Scenes Video from Positano Daily Photo

 

Last weekend I met up with my friend Nicki from Positano Daily Photo and we strolled around Amalfi looking at the fountain nativity scenes. She had been creating a video of the different nativity scenes that you can see in Positano and Praiano, so it was perfect! I hope you’ll enjoy seeing her video of all the different nativities on the Amalfi Coast. You’ll even spot me toward the end of the video in Amalfi!

Ice Skating in Amalfi

Amalfi Ice Rink Skating

There is a fun addition to the festive atmosphere in Amalfi this year with the arrival of an ice skating rink. Yes an ice skating rink in Amalfi! The kids in town have been enjoying trying it out on these warm December days. There are even cute little bears they can push around to get used to the ice. It certainly isn’t a natural experience on the Amalfi Coast!

Amalfi Coast Ice Rink

The ice rink is set up along the lungomare with beautiful views of the harbor and Amalfi. Even if you’re not one to take to the ice, you certainly can’t beat the view!

Amalfi Ice Skating Rink

The ice rink in Amalfi is open until January 6th, 2016.

Christmas Scenes in Amalfi

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With sunshine and unseasonably warm temperatures, this has been one of the most beautiful Christmas seasons I’ve experienced so far on the Amalfi Coast. Although it has been a busy time of year, much like this entire year has been, I’ve been enjoying glimpses of the holiday season in Amalfi. I couldn’t resist sharing the colors and festive atmosphere with you on this Christmas day.

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The Pasticceria Pansa in Amalfi is super busy this time of year like all the bakeries, with everyone stopping to buy Christmas desserts and sweets. The windows are particularly beautiful this year … and full of tempting treats!

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You can even get chocolate that says “Buon Natale,” which means Merry Christmas. The panettone from Pansa is out of this world delicious!

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Several fountains in Amalfi are decorated for the holidays with nativity scenes, or presepe. Here is one of them that has an elaborate scene above and below the water.

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Wishing you a very happy holiday season full of love!