December Events in UMBRIA

The Presepio (Nativity Scene)
Date:during Advent, 40 days preceding Christmas
Where:throughout Italy
This Italian invention is one of the oldest, purely
Christian traditions that has had an international
impact. An anonymous Italian sculpted a bas-relief
on an Early Christian sarcophagus in 342 AD, which
gives Italy claim to the earliest known depiction of
Christ's birth - incorporating iconography from both
the Old and New Testaments, with the babe laid in a
manger, visited by shepherds (Luke 2:7-19) and the
wise men from the east (Matthew 2:2), attended by
ox and donkey (Isaiah 1:3). However, Saint Francis of
Assisi invented the first true presepio. To celebrate
Christmas of 1223, the medieval populist asked a
landowner friend, Giovanni Vellita, to place an ox and
an ass next to an empty manger filled with hay
outside of the church Saint Francis had rebuilt in
Greccio (just outside his hometown). Descriptions of
this event have since been greatly exaggerated, but
the simplicity of this first presepio is verified by
St. Francis's biographers, St. Bonaventure and
Thomas of angels, no shepherds and
no props. Naturally, the direct emotional appeal of
this potent icon instituted by their founder had deep
religious resonance with early Franciscans, who
zealously promoted its use in all their churches worldwide. Along with the rapid growth of their new order during the 1200's, they spread the popularity of the presepio throughout Christendom -- a popularity undiminished in Italy today. During Advent (the 40 days preceding Christmas), almost every village and city in Italy presents a unique, community Nativity Scene. Most are elaborate, life-sized creations and a good number are ongoing theatrical events incorporating live people. Specific towns with significant presepi are noted below.
**Notable live nativity scene performances can be found in Terni, Foligno, Calvi dell'Umbria

Sight  The World's Largest Christmas Tree
Date:January 1st-10th
According to the Guiness Book of World Records, the world's largest Christmas tree can be found on a hillside in Gubbio. It is not a real tree, however, but a collection of more than 800 water-fountains illuminated (with over 12 kilometers of electrical cable) to form the shape of a gigantic Christmas Tree. The tree rises on the slopes of Mount Ingino in a spectacular display that can be seen from miles away.

Li Fauni (Festival of the Bells)
Date:December 9th
Li Fauni is a folk commemoration of popular traditions (with fireworks). Norcia presents a truffle festival between December and January featuring a traditional local dish spaghetti with black truffle, (pounded in the mortar with anchovies and garlic and then browned in oil).

Antiques and Flea Market
Date:first weekend of the month
An antiques and flea market is held in the main piazza

Sagra dei Olivi - Celebration of the Olive
Date:Various all month long
There are more than 30 small festivals held in countless villages in Umbria. At any one it is possible to find a guided tour of the olive pressing process. One can taste "olio novella", the newly pressed, virgin olive oil in it's most delicious state... as it drips from the press. For more information on specific locations call: 011-39-0577.27.16.51 (from the United States).

Illumination of the Christmas Star
Date:the first weekend of December through the first weekend of January
From the first weekend of December throughout the Christmas period, a gigantic shooting Christmas Star illuminates the whole of the Terni

Antiques and Flea Market
Date:every second Sunday of the month
An antiques and flea market is held in the Piazza del Popolo

Antiques and Flea Market
Date:every second Sunday of the month
An antiques and flea market is held in the Piazza del Mercato

Antiques and Flea Market
Date:second weekend of the month with an annual fair in the spring
An antiques and flea market is held in the main piazza

A Celebration of Pasta Festival
Date:second Sunday of December
The longest strangozzo in the world was made in this Umbrian hill town during the 1998 festival. The spaghetto-like noodle measured 4.3 meters. Arguments broke out whether the eggs used in the recipe broke the rules of the traditional dish, best served with truffles, and whether the name of the creation should be the same word that is used to refer to shoelaces. Regardless, anyone attending this celebration is guaranteed to eat well and learn something they didn't know about pasta.

Natale (Christmas)
Date:December 24th-31st
Liturgical celebrations and preparation of nativity scenes in all the churches and in the streets and squares, with particularly dramatic rites in the numerous Franciscan shrines.

Umbria Jazz Winter Festival
Date:December 30th through January 3rd
Umbria Jazz Winter - for this weeklong celebration of jazz, Orvieto transforms itself into an mini New Orleans set into some of the most beautiful countryside Italy has to offer. Concerts run from mid-day to midnight anywhere from the beautifully restored Theater Mancinelli (built in 1863) to the 13th century Palazzo del Sette or in any of the many coffee shops and historic piazzas. You can revel in the beat of international jazz greats like Bill Frisell, Larry Hamilton, Roy Hargrove, Charlie Haden and others. Umbria Jazz also features many unknown virtuoso musicians from all over the world. More information at 075-5732.432.
January . February . March . April . May . June .
July . August . September . October . November . December
Umbrian Festivals and Events
For a taste of medieval pageantry and traditions, time your trip to enjoy one of Umbria's artisan or seasonal festivals.

Preggio Chestnut Festival