Milan city hall hosts traditional Christmas crib

5 Dec-6 Jan. Created by master of the craft.

A monumental Christmas crib in the Basilicata style will be on view free in the ceremonial courtyard of Palazzo Marino, Milan’s city hall, from 5 December.

It has been created by Francesco Artese, an artist whose career over three decades has won national acclaim. His work represents Basilicata’s ancient peasant civilisation, based on agriculture and traditional crafts, and the landscape of the “Sassi” cave dwellings of Matera, listed by UNESCO as world patrimony.

Artese’s work sets the elements of the Nativity in a Basilicata context, with rugged churches, abbeys, sanctuaries and villages. The figure of the Virgin Mary is inspired by Dutch sculptor Daphné Du Barry’s bronze statue of the Madonna.

The crib celebrates the cooperation between Milan, the city of Expo 2015, and Matera, elected capital of European culture for 2019.

Christmas cribs are a long-standing tradition in Italy, believed to have been launched by St Francis of Assisi in the 13th century when, on his return from the Holy Land, he created cribs in Greccio in Lazio to help explain the Nativity story to local worshippers. They nowadays often contain contemporary figures as well as those from the Gospel.