The cribs of Caltagirone

The tradition of nativity scenes in Caltagirone is very ancient. In the sixteenth century the shepherds of the crib were created in clay and over the years, the ancient ceramic tradition greatly influenced the production of the nativity figurines. This made the cribs of Caltagirone more and more complex and fascinating, transforming them into real works of art.

Today Caltagirone is one of the largest and most important centers of Sicily in the creation of Sicilian Artistic Nativity Scenes .
The terracotta nativity scenes of Caltagirone are known and appreciated all over the world .

The very first examples of the art of making artistic nativity scenes are abundantly documented and summarily described in ancient acts. Unfortunately, however, the terrible earthquake of 1693 it also destroyed these small and humble testimonies of a religious tradition widespread in all social classes. The first nativity scenes that have come down to our days date back to 700: prestigious families of artisans, such as the Bongiovanni and the Vaccaro, have in fact created very valuable ceramic nativity scenes.

In Caltagirone the tradition of the nativity scene is so deeply rooted that it has spanned the centuries up to the present day: the ancient artistic nativity scenes are flanked by in fact, modern nativity scenes of ethnic inspiration or dedicated to children.

During the Christmas period, the various museums of Caltagirone give the public the opportunity to admire these authentic works of art. In addition, exhibitions are also set up, many of which are outdoors, to admire the nativity scenes made by the many enthusiasts. Thus, during the Christmas holidays Caltagirone is filled with visitors who flock to admire the prized Cribs of Caltagirone.

The oldest nativity scene in Caltagirone is the historic crib from the 1700s, made by the Vaccaro brothers and exhibited in the cathedral of San Giuliano. Among the most famous and visited artistic nativity scenes of Caltagirone we also remember: the Human Stature Nativity made up of about 100 statues in terracotta and fabric representing the scene of the Adoration of the Magi; the Animated Nativity characterized by a Palestinian scenography with attention to the smallest details and the many animated characters who move so gracefully that they seem real; the traditional Sicilian Nativity scene in plaster, reeds, wild cork and "cacazze" , ie the remains of the furnaces of the cannatari of the past, which represents the cliffs and vegetation typical of Caltagirone in the 1800s and which was built for the first time vaulted by Father Benedetto Papale in the 19th century; the Caltagirone nativity scene in miniature , which faithfully reproduces in scale all the monuments of the city, including the famous Staircase of Santa Maria del Monte with its 142 steps.

The rich exhibition of artistic nativity scenes in Caltagirone also includes representations of the nativity linked to tradition, such as the nativity scene of arts and crafts, the biblical nativity scene, the nativity scene with Sicilian puppets and the Betlehem nativity scene, representations dedicated to children, such as the fairy tale nativity scene, the Walt Disney nativity scene and the crib of the train, and finally ethnic and modern representations, such as the missionary crib, the crib of wonders and the animated cartoon nativity scene.

In Caltagirone it is also possible to visit the international museum of the nativity scene and stroll among the stalls of the Christmas markets set up during the holidays. Finally, in the splendid scenery of the carruggi di Caltagirone, that is the alleys, the stairways and alleys of the neighborhoods dating back to the era of Genoese domination, located near the splendid stairway of Santa Maria del Monte, a suggestive living nativity scene is organized.

If you want to know which other artistic nativity scenes you can admire in Sicily click on the following link: