Each village is a small natural nativity scene

Italy is a relatively small country but boasts thousands and thousands of little villages mostly with medieval origins. Some of these hamlets are real architectural and artistic gems with their castles, magnificent palaces and untouched boundary walls. Other villages are more modest and almost forgotten, but they proudly keep standing against time and depopulation. If you come to Tuscia, the area between Rome and lower Tuscany, the beauty and peacefulness of these unspoiled spots will mesmerize you.

Villages so tiny and pretty can count 300/400 inhabitants, mostly elderly. In Tuscia there is a very special little town with only 15 residents and one hotel with three rooms. It is Civita di Bagnoregio, now well known all over the world as The dying city. This village appears on the horizon as a fairy town perched atop a hill, surrounded by valleys and spectacular badlands. Its slopes are gradually crumbling down making it slowly disappear… day by day, rock by rock.

Civita di Bagnoregio – The Dying City – Italy

All these little Italian treasures, crystallized in time, strongly keep their traditions and customs.  However, what characterizes these enchanted places, even more, is the sense of community and belonging. Feelings that have the flavor of other times.

The holidays marked by the Christian or pagan calendar become opportunities to join forces and work together to decorate windowsills, squares, and streets. The beautiful collective ceremony will reward all the efforts. However, it is at Christmas time that in these villages of other times, the human connection reaches its highest expression.

Costaguti Castle – Roccalvecce (Viterbo) – Italy

In many villages are replicated Living nativity scenes with wonderful sets and period costumes. They are a moment of devotion for the faithful and a secular ecstasy for those who are not religious. These live performances last for hours and involve the participation of hundreds of people. Each person has his own role in the rebuilt ancient Bethlehem. Huts made from wood and palm trees leaves, hearths lit, animals, and the scene of the nativity.  All the setting is so realistic.

Living Nativity Scene in Bolsena (Italy) 2019

Sadly enough, Christmas at the time of Coronavirus leaves no room for public performances and choral celebrations. Nevertheless, in the smaller and forgotten villages, the Christmas tradition remains unchanged this year too. In fact, lights or festoons never came here to color hidden corners and narrow streets.  Only the creativity and the humble hands of the inhabitants have always made this event truly genuine and unique. In these pretty villages, Christmas has remained in its early days and its original meaning. After all, the same villages recall with their atmosphere a natural living nativity scene.

Christmas in these small villages is mostly the Christmas of the elderly, who still live in their native places while sons and grandchildren went away in search of a new life.

Piero Acciari and Teresa Taschini were married on 30 September 1956

In this 2020, no kisses and hugs are allowed. No handshake or pats on the backs. At Christmas, it is even stranger the social distancing and wearing a mask that covers smiles. Only the eyes are free to shine and no virus can neutralize the joy for this event. Because Christmas is in our spirits and souls.

Each inhabitant decorates his corner of the small town as best he can, and Christmas comes out of private homes and families to spread throughout the village. After all, the village is nothing but a bigger home and everyone’s family.

Creative Christmas decorations of the inhabitants of Roccalvecce – Viterbo – Italy

But if we too, just like these communities, decorate our little corner of the world with good deeds and as best we can, Christmas can come out of our private homes and families to spread throughout the world. After all, the world is nothing but a bigger home and the humankind family.

Merry Christmas!

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