When thinking about Christmas celebrations in Italy, the first thing that comes to mind is definitely the typical markets and the Nativity Scenes. Are they located all around Italy? Not really. While the Northern areas are mainly known for their open air markets, the Southern areas and specifically Naples is famous for being the best place with a street that is all about Christmas.
Via Di San Gregorio Armeno in Naples in fact is full of artesans shops on both sides: they handed down their deep knowledge from father to son. Here Christmas decorations and Nativity scenes are available all year round, as craftsmen work hard every day to preserve their precious traditions, shaping terracotta figurines that will be placed later in Neapolitan Manger scenes.Their unique way of depicting this special time of the year has become more and more appreciated that nowadays tourists from all over the world choose December to visit the fascinating Naples. Check out below to discover this original tradition of Naples.
What you can see in Via di San Gregorio Armeno
Via di San Gregorio Armeno, located in the central area of the stunning Naples, has been nicknamed Cribs Street by locals for its unique shops. This narrow alley which connects Via dei Tribunali with Spaccanapoli which means Naples splitter, is essentially a pedestrian area where it is possible to admire the craftsmanship of Naples inhabitants in the whole working process, from the creation stage, to the exhibition and delivery to clients.
Neapolitan figurines stand out for their uniqueness: when strolling along Via di San Gregorio Armeno you will get the chance to admire a myriad of extraordinary and unconventional representations of the birth of Jesus. From the main characters of Mary, Jesus and St. Joseph to shepherds, butchers and the Biblical Magi, in this area you will find all that you need to make your personal Nativity Scene at home. Not only that: San Gregorio Armeno is famous for being probably the symbol of Neapolitan humor expressions. There you can find detailed hand made copies of the real VIPs plus italian and international politics representatives.
The tradition of Nativity Scenes
The tradition of the Neapolitan Nativity scenes dates back to the XIII Century, when St. Francis created the first Nativity scene at the Sanctuary of Greccio, in central Italy.
Despite the development of that in the whole area around, at the beginning the creation of Nativity scenes was a privilege of Holy sites, such as Churches.
Finally, during the XVI Century, people from wealthy social classes in Naples desired to have their own ones: their aim was not only a religious one but they wanted to gain prestige by having a one of a kind art piece made by illustrious artists of that time. Local artisans were commissioned impressive Mangers scenes, with plenty of Baroque features. Soon this became a true highlight of the city, and artists opened their shops and exhibitions in Via di San Gregorio Armeno.
Useful information about San Gregorio Armeno
You can reach Via di San Gregorio Armeno directly from Naples central station, walking for about 20 minutes along Corso Umberto I. Alternatively, you can take the subway, getting off at Dante stop: from there step into the charming Via dei Tribunali, full of restaurants where to taste the real italian pizza, before reaching San Gregorio Armeno.
Although figurine shops all open all year round, the beginning of December is probably the best time to plan Naples private tours in the central district. This special location is so close to the other must sees of the town: San Domenico Maggiore Church, the itinerary of Underground Naples and the Museum of Cappella San Severo which preserves the beautiful marble sculpture of Veiled Christ.
Locals love going there on the bank holiday of December 8th, combining a stop in San Gregorio Armeno with Christmas gifts and a delicious authentic lunch at the renowned restaurant Nennella.
Are you planning your next Christmas trip to Naples? Contact us to arrange memorable Naples private tours!