In the town of Manarola, on the western coast of northern Italy in the heart of the Cinque Terre National Park in Liguria, the world’s largest Nativity scene was lit with Christmas lights this past December 8, continuing a local tradition.
The Manarola Nativity scene, which lights up the entire village for about a month, was created by Mario Andreoli, a now-retired railroad employee.
Andreoli began this arduous work in 1961 when, cleaning out his workshop, he decided to recycle unused materials by building a huge Nativity scene, instead of throwing the scraps away.
What we see today is the result of 61 years of painstaking and passionate work: a Nativity scene with more than 300 life-size figures illuminated by more than 1,700 light bulbs.
After the start of the coronavirus pandemic, statues representing doctors and nurses were also added.
The wonderful “postcard” attracts thousands of tourists to a land already famous for its natural beauty.
The Manarola Nativity scene was officially inaugurated in 2007, and that same year it entered the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s largest illuminated Nativity scene.
The following year, the spectacle went “green” because a photovoltaic system was specially built to generate the electricity needed for the illumination to be self-sufficient.
Manarola Nativity Association
A few years ago, the Manarola Mario Andreoli Nativity Association was established to help Andreoli since, due to age and health problems, he has some difficulty in continuing to carry out his project. These association members make sure the meaningful tradition continues for all the people in the area, and those who visit.