An idea of a Christmas crib was of Mario Andreoli. He is a retired railway worker that in 1961 grant his father’s request. He asked Mario to renovate an old crucifix that was situated on a hill over Manarola. When the crucifix was fixed Mario thought that it could be great to decorate it somehow. And he added lightings that were connected to a car battery. Then during the next 50 years, the whole construction was expanded. Mr Mario added new characters, stable, animals etc. And all these elements were decorated with lights. Nowadays the whole construction occupies almost the whole slope. Mr Mario ( next year 90 years old) doesn’t put together the pieces anymore. Now, the Municipality of Riomaggiore is responsible for the whole event.
Mario Andreoli built it with the pieces that he recycled (metals, plastic and straw). He used only a saw, welding torch and his imagination. In this way, by chance, he became the most famous, local artist! Nowadays the Christmas Crib has more than 300 characters that are lighted with 17 thousand lights that are stoked by 8 km of electric cable!!! In this way, it became the biggest Christmas Crib in the world!
When and How?
The crib is inaugurated every 8th of December. That day you will find extra trains to Manarola. You will find also a Christmas market where you can buy Christmas cakes and traditional Christmas gifts. The crib is turned on at 5.30 pm (when becomes darker outside). The important thing is that day Manarola becomes very crowded again (like during the high season). It is better not to try to go there by car and remember that you will find the crowds of tourists again…. however, it is not really a problem. The crib is opened until the end of January so you have much time to see it without crowds of tourist everywhere 🙂
Update for pandemic times
In 2020, the Christmas crib was inaugurated as usual, of course, there were no Christmas markets or crowds of tourists … but the tradition continues! Moreover, this year, at the special request of Mr Mario Andreoli (93 years old this year), a new character has been added to the nativity scene. It is a figure of a nurse wearing a white smock with a red cross, to honour the dedication of Italian health workers against COVID 19.
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