Nativity scenes

Crèche of San Filippo in Cortona

This Artistic Crèche is set up in the Church of San Filippo and can be visited through the entrance on Via Ghibellina, 14. The nativity scene is made by the Comitato per il Presepe di San Filippo. This artistic crèche is characterized by a landscape with monuments of Cortona, such as the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie al Calcinaio, the Cathedral, the Porta Colonia, the Palazzone, the Hermitage Le Celle and the street dei Cocciai. Every little statue is 70 cm tall and is made of papier mâché.

The artistic crèche can be visited during the Christmas holidays.

Living nativity scene in Pietraia

Every year, during the Christmas holidays, you cannot miss the living nativity scene in Pietraia, which is only 9 km far from Cortona. The Pro loco of Pietraia has been organizing this nativity scene for many years, an event that is appreciated and attended by an even bigger audience. The living nativity scene is organized in the open air in the wood behind the Church of San Leopoldo and can be only visited on public holidays during the Christmas period, from 24th December to 6th January.

In the past even Muslims and Jews have taken part in this crèche, giving a multiethnic character to the event and spreading a Christmas spirit which overcomes any religious and cultural barriers.

The mechanical crèche in Fratta

The first crèche

On Christmas 1223 Saint Francis organized in Greccio, in the province of Rieti, with the participation of the local population and of Giovanni Velità, the lord of that region, a living nativity scene with the aim of recreating the mystic atmosphere of Christmas in Bethlehem and of seeing where Jesus was born. Pope Honorius III gave his consent to make the first living nativity scene in the world on that night in 1223. The characters that animated “Saint Francis’ Crèche” on that night in 1223 have been handed down by tradition and by historical sources like the texts written by Tommaso da Celano and by St. Bonaventure.

Our crèche

During the 1960s, in Fratta, Adelmo Luni suggested for the first time the idea of making a new and original crèche with moving characters and sets. At that time they used rudimental materials and techniques, but the idea was so successful that this crèche won the second prize of the Provincial Crèche Competition called by E.N.A.L. of Arezzo. Today the "Gruppo Presepio Fratta" continues the tradition of the mechanical crèche, which is permanently set up in the shed next to the Church of Sant’Agata. Thanks to modern technologies, the mechanical crèche is an involving and interesting event, which has already pulled in many visitors, school children and families of the area and of the whole Central Italy.

The message of the crèche

Even if nativity is the central theme of the crèche, we try to tell the whole history of Redemption, from the Annunciation to the Crucifixion, in order to better understand the mystery of the Incarnation of God. The crèche representation is one of the most suggestive traditions on its own and holds an even stronger value combining religiousness, feelings, atmospheres and solidarity, and becoming not only a traditional appointment, but also the occasion to rediscover the greatest human values. Its fundamental aim is to represent Christmas with its true images and to spread the Christian message of the Gospel through an event which involves the whole community for days. The nativity scene represents one of the main mysteries of faith: incarnation, that is God becoming man. This is a valuable service for believers, since they can worship the mystery of the presence of God in the world through this visible signs.

Opening times

24th December - 8th January

Holidays: 10am-12.30am - 3pm–7pm

Holiday eves: 3pm-7pm

For school classes and social groups: 12th December – 15th January

For reservations, please phone: 3343063700 - 3338009280 - 0575617085 - 0575617091

or send and e-mail to this address:

Animated crib in Ossaia

In the 1970s in Ossaia a group of young people decided to set up a crèche in the church. This crib was not yet animated but had many visual effects, it changed sets and position every year. This tradition continued for ten years and then came back during the first 1990s, with the same traditions but focusing on big modern events (war, drugs, etc.). A classical crèche was mounted in 1995 and was kept unchanged until 2004, when four guys (Michael, Marco, Roberto and Manuel) decided to continue the crèche tradition of their fathers. The nativity scene with different sets every year was mounted in the chapel next to the church and they decided to introduce even animated characters.

The peculiarity of this crèche is that it is made with a limited budget and with recycled materials. Since 2004 many visitors have appreciated the animated crib of Ossaia.

The animated crib is open after saint masses and on public holidays in the period
from 24th december to 6th january from 4pm to 6.30 pm
For further information, send an e-mail to or phone 348/8225367