A famous Christmas tradition in Italy is the display of the Nativity scene. This custom at Christmas began in 1223 when St Francis of Assisi is said to have staged the first recreation of the scene of Jesus' birth in the town of Greccio, Italy. This Nativity – known as a 'presepio' in Italian, after the Latin word for 'crib' – used living people and animals. Villages that become a theater for the staging of ancient crafts, with costumes full of details and tools made with great detail. The perfect location to represent the Bethlehem of two thousand years ago, Matera hosts its living nativity scene in the suggestive Sassi district, in a five-kilometre path animated by shepherds, musicians and craftsmen who lead the visitor towards the representation of the birth of Jesus.
An ideal Christmas experience is on offer with a journey on foot through the Sassi districts of Matera accompanied by expert local guides. Anyone who is interested can take part, with departures at set times, in the tour "Christmas among the Sassi of Matera: discovering the crib scenes".
You will see the most evocative places in the city where great national and international directors have shot films inspired by the life of Jesus, The Gospel according to Matthew, the Passion of the Christ, the Nativity Story, Mary Magdalene only for a few to name. The living nativity scene of Matera includes eight scenes along the "neighborhoods" of the Sasso Caveoso. On stage over four hundred extras that enliven the alleys and squares of the Unesco World Heritage site. Now in its twelfth edition, this year it will be entitled "Listen to my voice" and will be held on 8, 9, 10 and 17 December and 6, 7 and 8 January 2023