San Gregorio Armeno, The art of the crib


Vibrant, chaotic and dilapidated gloriously, Naples is a place where life, romance and death are intertwined with passion". These are the words with which the British reporter Stanley Stewart presented the city in its report entitled "Naples: Passion and death in Italy's underrated gem", published in the The Teleghraph newspaper, that has made the city of Naples the most popular for British tourists. But the chaotic, magical and passionate Naples, attracts and fascinates tourists from around the world that, with the arrival of the holiday season, flock here to discover, experience and enjoy the ancient and traditional art of Neapolitan nativity scene, which finds its epicenter and highest expression in San Gregorio Armeno, in the most popular and folkloric heart of the historic center.

Via San Gregorio Armeno, also called San Liguoro, is the picturesque road linking perpendicularly the two Neapolitan decumani, the Major (via dei Tribunali) and the Inferior (Via San Biagio dei Librai), famous throughout the world as the "home" of wonderful workshops of cribs that are handed down generation to generation this ancient craft. The tradition of the Via San Gregorio craftsmen has its origins in ancient times since the classical era, in this street there was a temple dedicated to the Roman goddess Cerere, to which the inhabitants brought the terracotta figurines, made in the neighboring workshops, as a votive offering. The birth of the Neapolitan crib goes back to the end of the eighteenth century, but it is important to know that already at that time the Neapolis area was characterized by the presence of craft activities devoted to the manufacture of decorated statues.

Who lives and attends Naples knows that in the narrow and characteristic street of the cribs it seems Christmas all year, but in the beginning of November and until Epiphany, the district experienced its heyday, with its colors, the lights, the fairy-tale atmosphere and people who get lost in the magic of handmade figurines, from the canonical to the most original, dedicated to the characters that populate the world of entertainment, politics and current events and who have distinguished themselves in positive or negative during the year.

Between workshops, shops and stalls you can find all you need to create and beautify your crib, cork or cardboard houses of all shapes and sizes, mechanical objects operated by electricity, terracotta hand-painted shepherd, and others wrapped in precious cloth sewn garments tailored, real masterpieces of artistic creativity. The road of shepherds and cribs is also distinguished by its ancient and beautiful churches, including one dedicated to San Gregorio Armeno that, according to legend, was built on the ruins of the Temple of Cerere around 930. Lookup at the fascinated bell tower overlooking, lavish, the road, and serving as a link between the Church and Monastery of San Gregorio Armeno. The complex is also important for the presence of a rich archive and has one of most beautiful and evocative cloister of the city.

At the end of San Gregorio Armeno street, on the shore that leads to Via San Biagio dei Librai, it is then the church of San Gennaro all'Olmo, run by the foundation Giambattista Vico, who was baptized right here. Opposite the church, it is instead one that is traditionally identified as the Ianuaria domus, San Gennaro house, with a plaque that mentions the house as the birthplace of the Saint, placed in 1949.