Blogging about Rome & Lazio | Food | Wine | Travel | Traditions
MYSTERIOUS TWIG NATIVITY IN RURAL LAZIO & A SIMPLE HISTORY OF NEPI.
Driving from the village of Nepi on Via Umiltà we came across this very unusual Nativity scene.
We decided to name it 'twig sculpture'. It's quite bizarre and is there all year round - although we can see how it would be difficult to dismantle and rebuild each year. There are shepherds, the Three Wise Men, Baby Jesus, Mary & Joseph and other figures and animals.
We don't know who built this or when so we can't solve the mystery but we have some fun photos.
A bit about Nepi....
Nepi is small and quaint. Not a lot to do or see here really, but there could be. As usual we see huge potential in many of the places and sites we visit. There is a small beauty spot with river, waterfall, bits of original Roman road dating back to the 4th C. BC, buildings from the 15th C. AD including a castle (with extensive walls intact - but not possible to visit as far as we can tell). Cafè-bars are decent enough and the village square is well maintained. We were there in winter so there was a heavenly smell of woodsmoke in the air as we walked through.
A bit of history....
Nepi was built between the 8th - 6th centuries BC. Its original name was Nepet and lay more or less on the border between Faliscan and Etruscan kingdoms. A possible origin of the name Nepet could have been in reference to a snake - Nepa - which locals considered to represent fertility. Today the Nepi Coat-of-Arms still bears the image of a snake. In the 4th c. BC it was conquered by the Romans.
Savinilla, a Roman woman who converted to Christianity had the bodies of mytrys Ptolemy and Roman buried in Nepi's catacombs. Ptolemy and Roman were the founding Bishops of the Christian community in Nepi - murdered at the orders of Emperor Claudius the Goth at some point between 268-270 AD. The catacombs are called the Santa Savinilla Catacombs and have been dated to the 4th c. BC. There were 1000 bodies interred. There is a dedication to Ptolemy - Patron Saint of Nepi - inside the church (named after him: Chiesa San Tolomeo) at the entrance to the catacombs. It IS possible to visit the catacombs but there are no set visiting hours so you have to phone and try to arrange a visit when the church is open and a custodian available.
To book a visit:
Contact the Museo Civico
Office closed Mondays & Tuesdays.
In more recent centuries Nepi has belonged to the wealthy and important families of the Borgia, Farnese and Borghese. The castle (Castello dei Borgia) was built in the 15th c. at command of Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia (perhaps more commonly known as Pope Alexander VI) on the site of a pre-exisitng Roman fortress, which he then left to his daughter Lucrezia. The cathedral was built on ruins of the Roman Temple of Jupiter. Today's council building was built by Pier Luigi Farnese in the 16th c, and there is an acquaduct which was inaugurated in 1727.
Have a look, see what you think....for some reason I felt black & white photos would look nicer with just a few colour ones mixed in here and there.
The Twig Nativity....