Buon Natale from Italy. Beautiful and Unique Presepi (Nativities)

Italian Hand Carved Nativity displayed in a crystal cave

Today, I have the great pleasure of sharing with you images of several unique and beautiful presepi (nativities), most of which are personal, much loved treasures belonging to members of the EtsyItalia Team. And most have been hand made.

My deepest heart felt appreciation goes out to each and every one of the EtsyItalia Team members who have so generously shared images and stories. To assist you in getting to better know each of them, links to their blogs and shops are included with each image. I hope you will visit!

And don't forget to visit the EtsyItalia Team Charity Shop. Proceeds from sales in this shop go to assist people in need of help. Read more here!

The presepe (Nativity) is a very big part of Christmas in Italy. Presepi are installed in almost every church and home throughout the country beginning on December 8th. In fact - as Silvia tells us in her post "8 Random Things About Italian Presepe" - December 8th is a day off work for most citizens and is the traditional time to decorate the house and put up the presepe in preparation for Christmas Eve.

So now, won't you make a cup of your favorite Christmas beverage and join me on a little virtual tour of presepi in Italy.


Presepe Hand made in Italy and shared by EtsyItalia Team

Federica : shop - Frederica creations and blog - Federica Creazioni 

"Nativity on the stones"

The Nativity is presented on a large rock on which I placed the three main characters Mary, St. Joseph and baby Jesus in the center. All characters are hand-painted on rocks collected by the sea and then glued into place. The background is made up of many small stones which have been stacked upon each other to create a hut for the Holy Family. At the top center - the star - made of felt. Project created by me.

Presepe Hand made in Italy and shared by EtsyItalia Team

also created by Federica (see above)

"Nativity in felt and wood"

The Nativity is presented on a piece of wood that I collected from my walks on the beach. The moment I saw this piece of wood, I thought it would be perfect to use for a small crib. The figures are entirely handmade of soft felt that has been padded and stitched. Eyes have been embroidered and cheeks colored with crayon. Finally I added some pieces of string to each of the figures. A design created by me.

Presepe Hand made in Italy and shared by EtsyItalia Team

Paola  : shop - atelier pompadour (plush stuffed animals etc)

This is my nativity. I made the entire structure in clay including the scale and the wall. The structure that holds the fabric (which has been hand-dyed) is made with small branches tied with raffia. Even the trees are small branches collected in my garden. I also made the little basket in raffia, the one you can see on the left. I purchased the statues.

(note by Pam - be sure to notice the cow and donkey resting in the area below the Holy Family.)

Presepe Hand made in Italy and shared by EtsyItalia Team

Roberta : she has two shops: amabito (glass beads and jewelry) and Falibe (upcycled fabric accessories) which she runs with her sisters

Here is the nativity that I have made in my home. I removed one door in the wardrobe in the living room and I composed it inside the wardrobe. :)

It is very simple, I laid the grass and then created the mountains with brown crumpled paper. Then I created the street with little stones. Under the "cave" in the mountain, I put the figurines of the Nativity and then placed the other characters around them! For the fisherman (very center!) I made a little "lake" with kitchen paper ;)

(added by Pam: I imagine over the years there will be many more figures added. Take the time to notice the cleverly created figurines which represent hundreds available for presepi.)

Presepe Hand made in Italy and shared by EtsyItalia Team

Marta : shop - Utilart Macrame (handmade macrame jewelry and accessories)

This is absolutely my favorite Nativity! In my mind it's the best one and I'll tell you why - my father Fabio made it all.

He began the year I was born building the hut with the Holy Family, the ox and the donkey and the three Magi with their camel. Then, year after year the Nativity scene has grown, featuring shepherds with sheep and geese, two kids swimming in a small lake and also a donkey that walks and moves a millstone!

I love it and every time I look ay my father's Nativity I feel Christmas magic as if I were a child again!

Presepe Hand made in Italy and shared by EtsyItalia Team

this one also is from Marta

Every year, the small church close to my house hosts a Nativity exhibition: there are more than 100 different Nativities there. It's hard to choose one to show you because they are all beautiful and original. I love this one by Roberto Crotti, made with copper wire and pipe! ("100 Presepi" exhibition, at Sant'Antonio church in Lonato del Garda, Brescia)

Presepe Hand made in Italy and shared by EtsyItalia Team

Margherita ; shop - Marges Home (knitting and crochet)

Nativity crochet made in 2005. The hut is in olive wood. This crib participated (the same year) in the second exhibition of the regional competition “Small cribs" which was held in Città Sant’Angelo, a city in the province of Pescara, Abruzzo, Italy.

Presepe Hand made in Italy and shared by EtsyItalia Team

Rossana : shop - Clay Dreams Design (polymer clay art jewelry)

Two years ago my husband and my son Antonio made the structures with paper boxes. They painted them and embellished with natural moss, little pieces of wood, etc.

The characters are all handmade in clay and come in two sizes, in order to maintain perspective. The bigger ones were created by the skillful hands of my grandfather, while the smaller ones were bought from a craftsman from Lecce, a beautiful city of Puglia.

As you can see, there is no figure of baby Jesus. We put it in the crib on Christmas night, so until 24 December it remains safely in its box.

Presepe Hand made in Italy and shared by EtsyItalia Team

Christina : shop - LetterapSy (Hand Painted Jewelry * Aceo * Illustrations) and blog - Letterap Sy

Title - "E-Xmas" Description - An original nativity where the old and the new meet each other.

Technique and style of the setting are those of Neapolitan tradition of the18th century. All the figures in the scene come from San Gregorio Armeno: this is the main street of Naples where you can admire the work of the artisans of the crib.

Absolutely innovative and original is the idea of recycling an old pc monitor to host within itself the composition... for a modern and eco-friendly nativity! This is a work handmade by my father (except the figures): he has a great passion for Neapolitan nativity scenes of 1700 and sometimes he creates them as a hobby.

Presepe Hand made in Italy and shared by EtsyItalia Team

Alessia : shop - Cotton Candy

Here is our Crib. It is a crib in Terra-cotta, very delicate, but very simple and lovely which we purchased in a solidarity market stall.

Although it is not valuable, this purchase has done some good in the life of some distant unlucky person. For us, therefore, the crib is incredibly beautiful..:-)

Presepe Hand made in Italy and shared by EtsyItalia Team

Silvia : shop Madame Renard (bags and accessories in new and recycled fabrics) and blog - Madame Renard

This nativity is a gift we received last year for our new home. Although I might not normally select a nativity made of figures of children, I love the colors and it's a beautiful gift by a lovely friend, so I love it very much. :)

Since we only recently moved into our new home, we haven't yet bought the furniture for our living room (where we set up our nativity, the most common place for all nativities in Italy), so it is sitting on an old bedside table with a white fabric on it (snow?).

Notice that I tried to place the three wise men a bit far and simulate their journey. (note by Pam: Silvia explains this tradition in her guest post linked in the introduction).

Presepe Hand made in Italy and shared by EtsyItalia Team

Barbara : shop - Erbagatta (hand made accessories) and blog - Erbagatta - catmint for human beings

The Nativity that I created in my home.

I do like to prepare it every year in a different way. This year I re-used some cardboard trees and houses that I had at home to create a background. I added two colored fawns and the Holy Family is represented with two black pearls for Mary and Joseph and a white one for the baby Jesus.

Presepe Hand made in Italy and shared by EtsyItalia Team

Roberta : shop - Mairi Tales  (Doll house miniatures, jewelry and more)

This little nativity measures 9x8x8 cm (3.5x3.1x3.1 in). It is inspired by Neapolitan 700's nativity scenes. It is carved from pieces of polystyrene and the characters are handmade out of polymer clay. Included are the Holy Family, an Angel above them, two shepherds, two sheep, a woman at the fountain with a jar (the fountain has water coming out from the spout) and a woman with baskets of vegetables.

The figurines are really small :)  It took me many days to create but now it is so simple to take from it's box and display under the tree!

Presepe Hand made in Italy and shared by EtsyItalia Team

Diana : shop - Diacraft (handmade felt cuddles) and blog - Diarte's Blog - Art is all around

Ever since I was a little child, I have loved the nativity. Getting in that ancient and enchanted world makes me dream.

Growing up, I started to make handcrafted nativities. I experimented with using many different materials and now, for the past three years I have been creating my nativities in felt. In the beginning, I started to make them bigger with many animals and shepherds, angels. But it took me a very long time... so after completing a large one last year, I also made a small nativity for a friend of mine, just the Holy Family.

Somehow I kept that image in my heart; and so this year, I decided to make more versions of the little nativities, all about the size of my hand. I sent one to my mom, one to my friend, one has sold on etsy and two others are already reserved. In this way my nativities will go to more people; and I am pleased to tell you that one will be in a small church.


Buon Natale from the EtsyItalia Team. And from me!

Some of these are really

Some of these are really beautiful! Sylvia's modern interpretation is soooo cool.

They are all unique and full

They are all unique and full of character aren't they? Kinda gives you an idea of how we're each so differently motivated as we create. So interesting Pam! Thank you for bringing them all together.

thank you very much :)

thank you very much :) Pam
cribs are all beautiful
a merry christmas to you all

Great nativities! :D Thank

Great nativities! :D Thank yopu so much Pam, Buon Natale a tutti! :D (Merry Christmas to you all)

Wow they're all so beautiful,

Wow they're all so beautiful, creative and different. Thank you so much for sharing all of these!

They're beautiful! Thank you

They're beautiful!
Thank you Pam, and Buon Natale to you too! :)

What a wonderful collection

What a wonderful collection of nativities!
I enjoyed admiring the different versions of my Italian friends: they're amazing!

Thank you so much, Pam, for hosting us on your blog with this beautiful and interesting initiative!
Happy holidays!

Cristina (Lettera pSy)

ooooh *____* I love all my

ooooh *____*
I love all my team mates' nativities!!!
The thing I love most about this italian tradition is that it brings creativity in every family :)
And the endless possibilities you have, while working on a specific subject, is well showed here! You can make a presepe with almost everything (different materials) and in different styles. Hope we are inspiring someone in the world to make one!
Planning this post has been a great idea!