Our introduction to the tradition of "Presepe" began in the parish church of "Maria di Fatima". Individual churches, or indeed whole villages as we would soon see, prepare "nativity scenes" translating the story of Christ's birth into a local setting, or using unusual materials to make an imaginative scene. There is intense competition between towns and parishes.
"Presepe" of the City of Conegliano (a scene of about 3 square metres)
|Town folk go about their business, oblivious to the arrival of the Holy Family.|
|The Holy Family arrive at the coastal village like refugees on a raft|
|The miller works at his mill, grinding grain.|
The Molinetto is a 17th century water mill which was used to grind corn until 1953 when it was abandoned. The mill was purchased by the local Council and revived as a museum, complete with a working millstone. It hosted a "presepe" which attracted many small scenes prepared very imaginatively from a variety of materials. It is built on bedrock beside a small stream in the Lierza valley, about 10km north-west of Conegliano.
|The old corn mill beside the stream|
|Ears of corn used as Christmas decorations|
|The restored milling mechanism still grinds corn to produce corn flour.|
|Freshly ground corn flour|
|An imaginative and thought provoking nativity scene|
|A scene built within a lantern.|
|Scene built within a recessed frame|
|A typical farm house of this region with family living areas,|
storage rooms and barns for the animals in winter.
Each window showed an aspect of rural life (next image)
|Through the small window of the farmhouse.|
|Another rural scene|
|This nativity is set in a model of Il Molinetto itself.|
On the next day we set off again for a drive through the hills to the north-west of Conegliano. Despite the cold and the occasional light rain vignerons and farmers were pruning their vines. Although some red varieties are grown, this area predominantly produces grapes for the local specialty of Prosecco wine which may be "tranquilo" (still) or "frizzante" (semi-sparkling; well known in Australia). Nowadays the name "Prosecco" is often reserved for the wine itself and the grape from which it comes is called "Glera" but some lesser percentages of other varieties can be added.
About 15 km from Conegliano is the small farming town of Mura. Its residents take the "presepe" competition seriously. Away from the main road was the "presepe" trail which took us past dozens of scenes from many types of local materials. Some folk have a great deal more artistic imagination and craft abilities than I have.
|The main street of the small town of Mura in the Veneto, Italy.|
|If not for the electricity cables and TV antenna|
this could be a scene from centuries ago.
|With icy winds and snow lying about, this hardly seemed|
to be a good place to try to grow what appeared
to be a banana plant. The plant obviously agreed.
|Hand knitted nativity scene.|
|Small figures set amongst the rocks in the garden.|
|The figures have been placed inside this hollow in the|
tree trunk. (see next image for a closer look)
|Figures in a bucket|
|Figures in a wicker basket.|
|Now that's what I call a real wooden star|
|Street side nativity (see below for detail)|
|Amongst the wine flasks and barrels at the wine press.|
|Nestled against the large curved pumpkin.|
|Watching the bonfire|
|His first "sparkler"|
|Judy some of the Feletto family watching the fire.|
Lorella, Egidia and Ludovico and children.