Greccio: The Italian Village That’s Home to the World’s First Nativity Scene

In the picturesque village of Greccio, nestled on a cliffside in Umbria, Italy, Christmas is not confined to a single season but a year-round affair. Greccio holds a unique claim to fame as the birthplace of the world’s first nativity scene, created by St. Francis of Assisi in 1223. The village, home to around 1,500 residents, is tranquil most of the year, immersed in its agricultural surroundings and the beech and oak forest where wild boar freely roam. However, during the festive weeks of December, Greccio transforms as it welcomes visitors from across the globe who embark on a pilgrimage to experience the legacy of St. Francis.

For Christians worldwide, Greccio is a significant stop on the pilgrimage route dedicated to St. Francis of Assisi, a revered Catholic friar known for his deep connection with nature and his belief in voluntary poverty. The village becomes a hub of activity during December, attracting over 100,000 pilgrims and tourists eager to witness the enchanting nativity scenes that adorn the town. From miniature displays intricately nestled into the brickworks of walls to larger exhibits showcased in front of hotels and guesthouses, Greccio’s festive spirit and historical significance make it a destination that transcends the traditional boundaries of the Christmas season.

The heart of Greccio beats with the spirit of St. Francis, and the legacy of the first nativity scene remains a cherished tradition for the villagers and the multitude of visitors who come to marvel at the artistry and storytelling that unfold in this timeless Italian village.

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