La Valle del Primo Presepe

This project is based on the idea of rediscover, protect and promote the authentic meaning of the first Nativity Scene representation created by Saint Francis in Greccio. There the Saint, during the Christmas night of 1223, decided to prepare a living nativity scene inspired by his recent travel to the Holy Land. He wanted to reproduce the poverty and the simplicity in which Gesus was born and, for this reason, he only introduced three elements: an ox, a donkey and a crib. The meaning of this choice is a declaration of universal opening. The message of Christ is available and accessible for every one, particularly for the weak ones.

Following this teaching, “La Valle del Primo Presepeencourages several initiatives articulated in Rieti and Greccio, throughout an itinerary that combines the natural beauty of the environment and its cultural and historical values with an extraordinary exhibition of Nativity Scenes. It is an opportunity of active participation that embrace both adults and children through Nativity Scene contest, concerts and Medieval rievocations. The purpose of the itinerary is to reevaluate cultural and spiritual places under the original intuition of Saint Francis, increasing the awareness of sharing and cooperation.


VIDEO-NARRATION and book “Francesco e la vera storia del Presepe”

When Saint Francis came in Valle Santa Reatina was fascinated by the unspoilt nature, pure waters and beautiful landscapes. In these places he lived some of the most important moments of his spiritual life.
The video-narration will tell children and adults what happened during the Christmas night of 1223.
You will have the opportunity to immerse yourselves in the magical atmosphere of that night even reading an illustrated book which shows the evocation of the Nativity Scene made by Saint Francis. You can buy the book, by reservation, writing an e-mail to The sales revenues will be reused for the project.
Text written by Raffaella Pitz; 
Illustation by Lucia Ricciardi; Narrator: Friar Anotonio Maria Tofanelli O.F.M.



Here you can see one of the works included in the past edition: the handmade Nativity Scene created by the Master Francesco Artese. It represents Saint Francis in the Christmas night of 1223, placed in a setting that accurately reproduces some architectural details of Greccio and Rieti. The 72 statues are unique pottery pieces modelled by Vincenzo Velardita in Caltagirone and dressed in Napoli by the Balestrieri sisters. Every component of this Nativity Scene is handcrafted, from the windows to the animals, and it is essential to give the idea of reality.