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  • Manarola's Illuminated Presepe

    By Anthony Parente

    An enduring tradition that has been a part of the Christmas season in Italy is the beautiful nativity scenes (presepio) that decorate homes and towns throughout Italy. Over the years these scenes have expanded to include more than just the Holy Family and the three Wise Men. They can be elaborate works of art that depict entire villages. Of all the scenes throughout Italy the one in Manarola stands out and can be seen for miles.

    In Manarola, which is a small town that is part of the famous Cinque Terre area on the coast of the Italian Riviera in the province of La Spezia, Liguria you will find a presepe like no other. Located on the slopes of Manarola is the largest illuminated presepe in the world. This project was designed and built by Mario Andreoli, who is a retired railway worker. It started in 1976 and finally after 30 years Mario managed to cover the entire hill. During the 2007 Christmas season the presepe lit the skies of Manarola and instantly was added to the Guinness World Records.

    Each year on December 8th, which marks the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, the presepe is lit and it stays on until the end of January. This beautifully lit nativity scene contains over 6 miles of cables, 15,000 lights and 300 full scale figures that are eco-friendly as they are all made of recycled material. The electricity supplied to light the presepe is provided by a photovoltaic factory, which converts solar energy into electricity. This process allows the presepe to be sustainable, which complies with the philosophy of the Cinque Terra National Park that Manarola is located in.

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