The presentation of the live nativity shows, has become a competition of towns and villages in the Puglia region, animated by enthusiastic local volunteers from the neighbouring parishes; who characterise the periodic personages and create the Medieval villages weeks ahead of the spectacle opening, hoping to attract numerous visitors from all around the region to relive the lives of their ascendants.
The "presepe vivente" is, first and foremost, a religious celebration; but the show itself does not demand devout faith to appreciate the synchronised efforts of all the protagonists, organisers, animators and otherwise volunteered animals who partake!
And Christmas would not be Christmas in Puglia without an annual visit to a Live Nativity show.
2017 brings the 31st edition of the Presepe Vivente in our neighbouring village of Pezze di Greco, in an area of Brindisi. Pezze di Greco is an otherwise small market town, between Fasano and Ostuni, of around 6,000 inhabitants who are gathered in this fraction of Fasano; originally their forefathers came to toil the lands of the Family Greco. The Greco Family, with Martina Franca origins, had extensive lands, without olive trees (seems hardly plausible), land which served only to harvest wheat, oat and vegetables. Pezze di Greco, quite simply means, a piece of Greco or in this case, a piece of the Greco family lands; and thus the villagers made their homes in the area, whilst tending to the Family Greco agricultural fields.
The Presepe Vivente is hosted by the parish of Pezze di Greco and it is mainly their townsfolk that animate the live nativity show. The presepe is held in "Lama del Trappeto", a lama is a shallow torrential gully, karstic in origin, and typical of this area of Puglia which was once overrun with water but now mainly dry. The Lama has natural caves and grottoes, an ideal setting for a Presepe Vivente; amidst the secular olive trees.
Each year 20,000 visitors, from all over Italy come to Pezze di Greco’s Presepe Vivente Show, to see how man lived in the medieval era; when the lama was of course, by then, dried out. They come to see how they dug out the grottoes and the areas to create dwellings. The presentation starts with a tour around the medieval village; adults and children alike are enchanted by the magical ambient, the animals, the antique craftsmen and women, the smells of an age gone by, the music of an era we can once again enjoy, the objects and the tools used to make toys, the basket weaving, the culinary methods, the needle work, the woodwork, the ironmongery and so much more. A civilian museum, alive where we can once more discover the roots and the riches of a nation.
Throughout the visit, there is a definitive sense of solidarity amongst the animators, it is also a strong reminder of that which we take for granted today; our modern comforts, access to water, gas and electric, if not a warm roof over our heads. Please, enjoy the show!
Openings – 26th, 27th and 30th of December 2017 – 1st, 6th – 8th January 2018
Some other Christmas Events in Puglia
Christmas market and show from 03/12 to 23/12
Selva di Fasano
Market, shows, games from 2/12 to 10/12
Presepe Vivente from 26/12 to 29/12
Presepe Vivente from 16/12 to 17/12