At Christmas time, the small villages of Tuscia are dressed in lights and decorations, giving inhabitants and visitors the sensation of diving into a natural living nativity scene. Small artisans carve nativity figures, bakeries bake Christmas sweets, festive shop windows invite passersby to buy Christmas gifts, choirs in churches accompany the liturgies.
Located Between Rome and Tuscany
Tuscia is an area of central Italy located between Rome and lower Tuscany and boasts many small 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.
Some villages are so small and pretty and can count 300/400 inhabitants, mostly elderly. In Tuscia there is a very particular village with only 15 residents and a hotel with three rooms. It is Civita di Bagnoregio, now known throughout the world as The dying city. This village appears on the horizon like a fairy town perched on top of a hill, surrounded by valleys and spectacular badlands. Its slopes are gradually eroding and one day it will disappear.
All these Tuscia treasures, crystallized over time, strongly preserve 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.
Living Nativity Scenes
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. The whole setting is so realistic.
The creativity and the humbleness of locals have always made this event truly genuine and unique. 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.
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 surrounding. The village is nothing but a bigger home and everyone’s family.
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.