GreccioWhere the first nativity scene came to life.
The origin of the living nativity scene by Saint Francis in 1223, with historic sanctuaries and scenic hiking trails.
Greccio, a village tucked away in the Italian region of Lazio, is widely recognized for its historical association with Saint Francis of Assisi, who is said to have created the first living nativity scene here in 1223. Visitors are drawn to the Sanctuary of Greccio, which commemorates this event and offers insights into the life of the saint. The village itself rests on a rocky hill, providing scenic views of the Rieti Valley, and the narrow streets and stone buildings of Greccio exude an atmosphere that transports you back to Medieval times.
Sanctuary of Greccio
The focal point for many visitors is the Sanctuary of Greccio, perched on the mountainside. This Monastery complex consists of a series of chapels decorated with frescoes depicting the life of Saint Francis. Among them, the most noteworthy is the Chapel of the Manger, which stands as a testament to the spot where Saint Francis is said to have held the first living nativity scene. The sanctuary hosts a museum with artifacts dating back to Franciscan times and provides a serene environment for reflection and exploration.
Annual Nativity Reenactment
Greccio's connection to the nativity scene comes to life annually through its reenactment of the living manger, attracting visitors from across Italy and beyond. This celebration occurs in December and involves the townspeople dressing in period costumes, creating a dynamic tableau that honors the village's historical past. It is not only a reverent nod to tradition but also a vibrant event that binds the community and its visitors in shared experience.
Hiking Trails and Natural Landscapes
The village's hillside location offers access to numerous hiking trails that meander through the surrounding forests and mountains. One of the popular routes is the Cammino di Francesco, a trail that follows in the footsteps of Saint Francis through the picturesque landscapes of Lazio. Hikers are rewarded with panoramic views and may even encounter local wildlife. The trails range from easy to challenging, accommodating outdoor enthusiasts of different skill levels.
As for getting around, Greccio can be reached by car or bus from Rieti, which is the closest major city. The village itself is best navigated on foot due to its compact size and steep, narrow alleys that add to its medieval character.