An hour south of Rome you find the cutest little mountain village, Sermoneta. In one of the tiny little streets there used to be a small shop selling presepes, the shop window always displaying the loveliest scena della nativitá. Every time we came there I stopped to have a look, every time we came there the shop was closed.
Just down the street there is a tiny little museum showing more of the same figures. No nativity, but scenes showing peasant life, every day life in old Italy. An old man is guarding the museum, selling tickets, unlocking the heavy door, turning on the lights. He speak no English. We speak very little Italian.
Then one day I came to Sermoneta with my friend Brit, who has an appartment in Terracina, not far from the village. Brit speaks Italian, and we learned from the old man that all the figures and landscapes were made by his daughter. The presepes in the small shop were also hers, and yes, if we wanted to he could open the shop for us.
I bought Joseph, Mary and little baby Jesus, telling myself that I could always come back to buy more, telling myself that the charm is in a growing collection.
There har been no growing of this special nativity. I did come back a few times, but always to a closed shop, never finding anyone who could open it. Now I´ve heard that the shop is closed asnd the woman making the presepes has moved on to do other things.
I do have a charming holy family though, and some lovely old photos (which I had to search on an old harddisk to find)
I am dreaming of one day going to Napoli and San Gregorio Armeno to start another collection.......
The nativities come in a million different designs. I found this kit with cookie cutters in Oxford Street in London. I have not made nativitu cookies, may be I´ll do it if I ever become a grandmother....... But The House in the Woods is clean, the tins are filled with Christmas cookies, all my nativities are displayed, coffee is always on and you are welcome to come over and have a look......and a cup of coffee.
When our oldest daughter Ingris Elise played handball (unfortunately she stopped years ago), she used to take part in a tournament in Østersund, Sweden the first days in the New Year. We often went with her, and when we were not watching handball, we enjoyed the lovely way the Swedes decorate their houses for Christmas. And how they celebrate epiphany. It was during one of these handball visits that I bought my simple wooden nativity. Made in Sweden.
Trondheim is only an hours drive from the Swedish border, going there doesn´t feel like going abroad at all. Or actually, it does. In a good, friendly way.
For different reasons I cross the border at least once a year. Like in September this year when I did a pilgrimage with a group of my deacons.
Sweden is so many good things. It is Astrid Lindgren, it is Selma Lagerlöf, it is Martin Lönnebo, and right now it is most of all Göran Sonnevi and his poems.
My Swedish nativity brings forwards a lot of great memories.
I have been to the US several times, but never bought a nativity there. Only almost bought one.....and I´ve regretted it ever since..... that I did not buy it.....
I do have a couple of American creches though. One (not in the photo) which I got as a gift some years ago, and this lovely "quilted" one which I bought at the cathedral shop here in Trondheim a year or two back.
I have heard that Tallinn in Estonia has one of the best Christmas markets in Europe this year. I have never been there at Christmas time, but when my husband and I visited Tallinn last autumn, I found these babushka dolls, the biggest doll painted with the manger.
We spent only a weekend in Tallinn, but believe me, Friday till Sunday makes room for quite a lot of coffee shops.
Coffee and cakes hand in hand with the one you love.
Our sons loved lego when they were small. They had loads of them! A few years ago we gave it all away, to grown up friends, Anne Jorunn and Håvard, who are collectors, and as a little thank you, Anne Jorunn carefully picked out a few pieces from when we gave away, and made me a creche.
How cute is that :-)
Denmark and Legoland was the goal fopr several summer vacations when the kids were small.
Denmark is still a country I love to visit, but these days Copenhagen is a natural goal. Especially at this time of the year. Unfortunately I have not been there the last few years, but I do have Tage Andersen and his remarcable flower studio fresh in mind when I start decorating for Advent, continuing into Christmas.
Several Tage Andersen pieces of art have found their way to The House in the Woods, and his book From Advent to Twelfth Night is a December favorite.
Here you can follow me to Tage Andersen´s studio in December 2009
Provence, in the south of France, they have a rich tradition of santons, locals includede in the creche. The very first santons were created by the Marseillais artists Taylor Haney (1764-1822). There were made during the French Revolutions when the churches were closed and nativity scenes were strictly prohibited. There are 55 different figures representing traditional local life and artistry.
in 2003 we spent a couple of hot summer weeks in Provence, and in Avignon I found my creche.
Later Terje has been back and brought home the three kings, The Magi.
16th request, or rather a question:
Do you have any local nativity scene traditions where you live?
Our summer in Provence was before blogging, but here is a link to my posts from Paris.
....and a very interesting video about the making of santons.
This blog is part of my main blog Britt-Arnhild's House in the Woods. Caffe Avec is about travels, shared over a cup of coffee. I hope you have time to sit down and enjoy a cup and some chatting with me.
I am living in a red house surrounded by a blue garden near Trondheim, Norway. I love everydays and post about my steps through life. Britt-Arnhild's House in the Woods is open to everybody. Welcome over!