Saturday, December 24, 2011

Flash Back to Christmas In Italy 2009

Presepe Vivente~The Living Nativity

The hills and valleys of Italy are filled with The Nativity. It is such a beautiful sight and it has made me realize that here in America, with all our our 'political correctness,' we are doing our citizens a terrible disservice. Not to be able to display the symbols of Christ at Christmas will never fly in Italy. For this alone, I love their country.

People need visual reminders and not a soul in Italy can miss the Christ in Christmas. No matter what their religious beliefs, the degree of activity in their church or the lives they are living~at Christmas time they are reminded over and over again what their compass should be. We need this here in America. I like the term 'political correctness' because that is exactly what it is. Political! It isn't ethical, or spiritual correctness and it has nothing to do with what is right or true or good for us, most of the time. In denying the public displaying of the Nativity, we as Americans are shooting ourselves in the foot, Big Time!

That being said and climbing down off my soapbox, I want to share the experience we had on the day after Christmas. In Italy they savor Christmas. They start early and end late with their celebrations.

Whoops, back on the box for a minute. Often times I have noticed the day after Christmas, all evidence of the money we have spent during the holidays is removed visually from the malls and market places. Poof, it is gone, that way we will continue to spend, spend, spend! And someone is working Christmas night to make it happened by opening time the next morning. It is all about the retail over here. Not so in Italy. The world should take a lesson.

So we planned to go to a tiny mountain town called Maranola, near Gaeta to see the Living Nativity the day after Christmas. While Christmas had already vanished in the US by the 26th, this was their opening day. We arrived early so we could stroll around Gaeta a bit.

The harbor walkway of Gaeta

One of the ships Robert has been to sea on while living here.
When we stayed here, a window in our hotel room
o
pened to a full view straight on of the back of the ship.
(Bow, stern, port? I never did know these!)

The kids arranged a tour for us through the military services to go to see the Presepe and we all bundled up, drove to Gaeta, jumped on a bus and off we went. We didn't have much of an idea of what to expect~except rain. Rain, rain, continual rain. We had pretty much acclimated to that, but had no idea what it would mean to have it raining on this particular night. Can I just say flat out, I didn't like it one bit?

This is a view from the head of the line,
it goes down a few flight of stairs to the bottom of the hill.

When we arrived at the ancient little town we saw a big line of umbrellas trailing up to the entrance to the little village. They only allowed so many people up into the village at one time. Crowding under the mass of umbrellas we waited and wondered what was ahead. Huddling under umbrellas that are overlapping and touching each other is a curious thing. I think you actually get wetter from the run off of the umbrellas around you. Arrrgh! Can we say... Grumpy Gramma?

Then the music started playing and that soothed me somewhat, even though I was already getting drenched. A man was playing some bagpipes for all to enjoy. It was nice. Moving as a crowd we made our way through the tiny streets. In spite of the physical challenges, it was wonderful to see the little vignettes they had put together to represent the life of the people of Bethlehem at the time of Christ's birth, as we climbed our way half way to heaven. Everyone in the village participates and it really an amazing sight. The ruggedness of the setting makes it seem so authentic. The steps up were very uneven, worn and extremely slippery and the streets that weren't actually stairs were very narrow and steep.




I had to laugh at the clothes hanging out to dry!
We were drenched to the bone! Seriously my hair
looked like I had just stepped out of the shower.
(No photos, thank you very much!)

We came across a little chapel
near the top of the mountain.

Jim in his glory when he met some
bonified, Italian boys scouts!


We climbed some more and came across
another ancient place of worship.
Check out the carving behind
Jim on the walls and the 3-D
fresco wall/sculpture below.

Wet kidlets!


What we came for at the very top of the mountain...

Presepe Vivente~the Living Nativity
with the youngest baby of the village
as the baby Jesus
and his parents as Mary and Joseph.
They had even hauled these big lumbering oxen up there!
Amazing and a great memory.

Once down we had our dinner while
waiting for our tour bus to pick us up.
If you haven't tried a picnic on a mountain,
at night, soaked to the gills,
in December, in Italy...you should!
It is a relief to say, "Been there, done that,"
and then to move on!

Looking back from a nice, warm, dry perspective,
it was a great experience.

1 comments:

Sister Susie said...

I love seeing places as those in your pictures! When I was in Israel, these places were so dear to heart. I have not forgotten them! Thank you, Bonnie for sharing beautiful memories of them and others!
Merry Christmas,
Susan