An emblem of the Neapolitan Christmas traditions, the Neapolitan Nativity Scene is such an important religious symbol, that it is entrenched even into the memory of the profane. It is a magical synthesis, between sacred and profane, which ritually populates rural homes, rather than a synthesis between history and daily life, the Neapolitan Nativity scene is a handmade production revered and appreciated all over the world.
The term is derived from Latin, and the first documented observations of the Neapolitan Nativity Scene goes back to 1205. The first representations of the Nativity Scenes as seen throughout Italy in general, is that of the manger, the ox, the donkey, with Joseph and Mary near baby Jesus.
It is in the 16th century that the Neapolitan Nativity Scenes truly attempts to embody the most accurate representation possible of then-daily life, with care given to the most minute detail. In the 17th century the Nativity scenes become know for their excellence, in which time the hand work of the scenes are greatly improved upon. In the 18th century, the school of art dedicated to the Neapolitan Nativity Scene is born.
The personae shown in Nativity Scene are not your classical stereotype; with new and ongoing research, the characters and the representations of then-daily life and are constantly updated.
The Napoletan nativity at the Cathedral in Sorrento, is a permanent exhibition but can only be viewed during the Christmas period.
It can be found in the area adjacent to the vestry and is famous for the numerous reproductions of shepherders (inspired by the Napoletan shepherders of the ‘700’s).
Protected by the rules of the art of Napoletan Nativity making, the nativity scene found at the Cathedral in Sorrento is composed of enchanting scenes representing the Nativity, the Shepherd’s Announcement and the traditional manger.
Wood, cork, papier mache and plastic, and plays of light faithfully bring to life religious and daily-life scenes considered to be museum reconstructions of rural and pastoral civilizations.
The most precious nativity, donated by the poet Saltovar, was stolen following the earthquake of 1980. It has been reassembled though and crafted by Antonino and Giuseppe Parlato and is the result of the passion and hard work of many, amongst who have been the parish priest, Don Luigi Di Prisco and his predecessors.
Crowded and lively in Summer, Sorrento is a town rich in events and happenings also in Winter.
On February 14th every year, on Valentine’s day, Sorrento celebrates the festival of St. Antonino, the Patron Saint of the town. A double feast, therefore, for all those who decide to spend this period in Sorrento Coast which lives the celebrations in honour of the Patron Saint very intensively.
According to the legend, St. Anthony the Abbott was a monk who, after the apparition of St. Michael the Archangel and on orders of him, built a church in Sorrento, today known as Basilica of Sant’ Antonino, among the most important artistic and architectural beauties in the town. Dear to the population also for his numerous miracles, the Patron Saint is remembered every year with a series of pleasant events.
A religious as well as a folkloristic and cultural event, February 14th is, therefore, one of the most beautiful moments to live the magical atmosphere Sorrento is immersed in: religious rites alternate with numerous profane events, thus making the festival rich in happenings.
St. Antonino is celebrated with a suggestive devotional procession occurring in the morning of February 14th: the enchanting silver statue representing the saint goes around the town, accompanied by the inhabitants and by the religious, civil and military authorities, under the charmed eyes of so many people.