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Cammarata -San Giovanni Gemini

Your next destination in Sicily in the Sicani mountains

A mountain of excellence

OPENING DATES 2024: Entrance 5.00pm-9.30pm Dates: 23, 26, 28, 30 December 2024 and 1, 5, 6 January 2025

The living nativity scene of Cammarata

The Living Nativity Scene of Cammarata stands out as one of the most beautiful nativity scenes in Sicily.


Imagine taking a trip back in time to Cammarata of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, immersing yourself in the magical atmosphere of an ancient Christmas tradition. This unique and unforgettable experience awaits you in our Living Nativity Scene, initiated in 2003 by the parish community of San Vito in Cammarata and organized under the auspices of the "SS Crocifisso degli angeli" Association.

This event is not merely a nativity scene; it's a journey through history that recounts the momentous event that transformed humanity: the birth of Jesus. Every corner, figure, and gesture revives the sacredness and wonder of that pivotal moment, in a perfect blend of faith and tradition. You will find yourself in an intricate network of historic streets, with our ancient houses transformed into vibrant scenes of daily life. Surrounded by shepherds, animals, artisans, and farmers, you will experience the essence of Christmas brought back to life through the simple life of times long past. Forgotten customs and flavors are reborn, creating a powerful connection to our roots.

Traditional melodies resonate in the air, accompanied by the scent of Christmas sweets and vintage dishes, offering a sensorial journey through time.

You will walk through narrow streets, centuries-old cellars and old stables, once the homes of our ancient families, now resplendent with the lights, gestures and songs of the time. The visitor is surrounded by a unique and unrepeatable emotion, an experience that leaves an indelible mark on anyone who experiences it for the first time. Every step in this historical labyrinth is a step into an almost forgotten world, where every detail is a story to discover.

Our Living Nativity Scene is not just a religious event, it is a fascinating show of folklore, a celebration of our cultural heritage and a tribute to the timeless beauty of the Christmas tradition. With every scene that comes to life, every sound and every aroma, the Nativity scene becomes a living bridge between the past and the present, an ode to the eternity of the Christmas spirit and the richness of our history.

Promo video

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nativity scene in cammarata animals
birth christmas
Cammarata live nativity sheep
Nativity scene crafts of Cammarata

In the core of the nativity scene, you are enveloped by the joyful tunes of two charamiddars. Their Christmas music and carols fill the air, fostering a festive ambiance that warmly embraces you. The boisterous and lively voice of merry, carefree men soon captures your attention, guiding you toward "the Tavern." Here, in this nucleus of vibrancy, you encounter figures donned in traditional attire, with caps and hats, engrossed in card games. Around you, others engage in creating melodies with the ancient marranzanu, reviving old songs in a celebration of folk culture.

Venturing deeper, the air becomes alive with the voices of women, indicating your approach to a "Putia." Within this cozy space, warmed by a brascera, you observe two women vending the bounty of the earth: vibrant vegetables, succulent fruits, and other staples like sugar, salt, and legumes. You're transported to the quaint market scene of yesteryear, replete with flour, pasta, coffee, lentils, stockfish, and cheeses dangling from the ceiling, alongside spices and fruits such as bay leaves, cinnamon, chamomile flowers, quinces, absinth, and rowanberries.

Your exploration progresses, lured by the enticing aroma of cooked chickpeas, leading you to the "du Ciciraru" hut. Crossing the threshold, you next encounter the door to the remarkable "u Sculturi" workshop, where your gaze is treated to miniature masterpieces carved in stone. This sensory journey reaches its zenith at "u Spremiracina," where the robust, sharp scent of cooked wine invigorates your senses. This marks the peak of your voyage through time in the Living Nativity Scene of Cammarata, a celebration of history, culture, and the enduring traditions of a time long past yet vibrantly alive in the community's heart.

A short distance away, you admire "u Stazzunaru", the adept craftsman who shapes clay into indispensable tools for everyday life. Lanceddi, bummuli, plates, and pignatas seem to materialize from his hands as though by magic, drawing your gaze with the allure of traditional ceramics.

In a meticulously recreated nook, you encounter two women "annettano u frummìantu" within an ancient mill. Alongside them, a man mills wheat on a rotating stone, transforming it into flour. This scene vividly depicts the age-old process of food production.

Next door, laughter and lively conversations greet you, where several women, gathered around an arbitriu, craft various types of pasta. This pasta is then attentively arranged on rods to dry, showcasing a traditional technique that continues to captivate. Nearby, you stumble upon a quaint workshop, "li Raccamatrici". Here, three women dedicate themselves to white linens, meticulously crafting blankets, sheets, and more, weaving together colors, patterns, and time-honored sewing practices.

Just ahead, a woman weaves tenni on a substantial wooden loom. Surrounding her, other women engage in knitting stockings, crocheting, and knitting near a brascera, presenting a picture of collaboration and artisan skill. This shop exudes the personal touch of its proprietors; "a Famigghia", domestic life within a compact space, has been adeptly recreated. The decor is modest, mirroring the existence of a simple family: in a singular room, a mother rocks her newborn in a naca while knitting.

In close proximity, "du Cinnirazzaru" makes his presence known, a man adorned in a shawl and cap, vending charcoal as he guides his donkey, evoking imagery of a long-lost time. At your journey's end, The Hague unfolds before you. Here, an elder farmer oversees the threshing, assisted by an animal that treads on wheat sheaves, an authentic representation of historical agricultural labor.

Your exploration concludes with a visit to the petite church of the Madonna del Barone, honoring the Madonna delle Grazie. A moment of tranquility that caps off your voyage through the Living Nativity Scene. Each corner harbors a revelation, leaving you with a content smile and a heart brimming with memories and narratives conveyed through the living traditions of Cammarata.

Church of Madonna del barone
The setting

The journey through time commences in the enchanting Arab quarter known as San Vito, which marks the entrance to the nativity scene. As you pass through "U Patu", an Arabic arch that stands as the entrance to the Rock, you're transported through an almost magical threshold into a realm of ancient traditions and narratives.

Meandering along narrow streets, you find yourself amidst silent and sparsely populated stone houses, silent bearers of a rich and profound history. Windows peer out like curious eyes, and small wooden doors are adorned with crosses, suggesting that at any moment, a figure with oriental features might emerge, offering a warm greeting and a wish for good fortune. It is here that the story unfolds, taking us back two millennia to a couple in search of shelter, their story a distant echo of the nativity that intertwines with the local lore.

Every aspect is meticulously crafted: the costumes, the scenery, and the infectious enthusiasm of the people from Cammarata and San Giovanni Gemini, who are fully engaged in bringing this living artwork to life. Over 150 participants animate about thirty scenes, evoking slices of daily life from a bygone era, thus transporting visitors on a voyage through history and culture.

As you wander these narrow lanes, the irresistible scents of traditional cuisine draw you in. Authentic dishes, prepared as they once were, serve as the perfect culmination of this unforgettable experience. It's a culinary journey that complements the historical exploration, offering a feast not just for the eyes but also for the palate.

This is Cammarata, a place where past and present converge to celebrate the magic of Christmas, where each step is a dive into a captivating narrative, a journey through the centuries unveiled in every nook, in every gaze, in every smile.

The characters along the way

The first characters you encounter are "u firraru", the skilled blacksmith, and "u Scarru", the adept shoemaker, each deeply engaged in their ancient crafts. As you proceed, "li ragamatrici", embroiderers, captivate you with their work among colorful fabrics and the cozy warmth of a nearby barbecue. You cannot overlook "a furnara", diligently baking bread in a wood-fired oven, and "u picuraru" preparing fresh ricotta.

Within a stable, you'll discover "u Museo". Here, a farmer proudly showcases the tools of his trade, symbols of a life filled with both hard work and rewards. "U Fasolaru", standing by his pot of hot beans, generously offers comfort to passers-by.

As your journey unfolds, you meet "u Picuraru" again, this time clad in his typical sheep's wool vraca. Then, you find yourself in a timeless place, "A Capanna", the sacred core of the scene, where Saint Joseph, Mary, and Baby Jesus are portrayed by live actors, with an ox and a donkey enriching this serene tableau.

The path leads you next to "u Furnaru", where proficient bakers knead and bake aromatic bread, its fragrance revitalizing your senses. Make sure to visit the "u Scarparu" shop, and not far beyond, "u Siggiaru", who crafts with vegetable fibers to create panara. Step into "U Varvìari", a space evocative of the early twentieth century, then watch "u Falinami" at work with saws and planes, and "u Firraru" expertly wielding his tools.

There  San Vito Martire church

Steeped in history and spirituality, the Church of San Vito, dating back to the early 16th century, stands as a testament to time's passage. A 1541 document depicts it as a humble, non-sacramental structure, housing modest altars dedicated to San Vito, San Calogero, San Filippo, San Rocco, the Holy Virgin of Riparo, and the SS. Crucifix of Angels.

Now, the church presents itself majestically with three aisles, each brimming with devotion and artistry. Dominating the center of the main aisle is the statue of San Vito, to whom the church is fervently dedicated. Within this chapel, one finds a splendid 18th-century wooden choir, exquisitely carved with eagles. The walls around are adorned with four sculptures that poignantly depict the martyrdom of the saint.

The lateral aisles exude a quiet reverence, housing a series of altars and paintings of invaluable artistic merit. Among these, the painting of the Dormitio Virginis by Ettore Cruzer takes a place of pride. Additional canvases grace the walls, portraying San Nicola, San Liborio, the Pietà, the Souls of Purgatory - with two versions post-restoration - and the life of San Placido, narrated across sixteen captivating scenes.

A highlight of the church is the processional fercolo of the SS. Crucifix of the Angels, celebrated on the last Sunday of May and dating back to 1863. Gazing from the main entrance, one is enchanted by a picturesque stone staircase, seamlessly blending sacred architecture with the allure of nature.

Tucked away within the church is a collection of silver chalices, each a witness to different epochs. The oldest, featuring a brass base and silver cup, harks back to 1500, serving as a precious link to bygone times.

The Church of San Vito Martire is open to the public and is located at Via San Vito 15. Parking is available in Piazza Marrelli.

Mass times are as follows:
- Weekdays: 18:00
- Holidays: 8:30, 11:30, 19:00

For further information, you can contact the church at 0922 909086.