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Visit Greccio at Christmas. Greccio: home of the world’s first Nativity scene

Visit Greccio at Christmas time is magical, Grecio is the city where the first nativity scene in the world was born.

Visit Greccio at Christmas time

Greccio it has been elected one of the most beautiful villages in Italy and is twinned with the city of Bethlehem, an excellent reason to organize an itinerary to discover the things to see in Greccio during the Christmas period in the historic center.

The small village owes its “fortune” to the “Poverello di Assisi” who spent the last period of his life right on Mount Lacerone in a small hermitage dug into the rock.
Here Saint Francis spent Christmas night in 1223. This moment wrote history. The saint of Assisi “remembered the cave of Bethlehem” by recalling the moment of the birth of the Child Jesus.

Today Greccio is considered the “town of nativity scenes“. Every year around 45 thousand pilgrims visit the Hermitage of San Francesco. In the period of December the flow of pilgrims and visitors reaches very high peaks.

Visit Greccio at Christmas it is magical, the city is where the first nativity scene in the world was born. Among the things to see in Greccio during the Christmas period in the historic center is the International Nativity Scene Museum. A few meters from the centre, inside the Church of Santa Maria, the Nativity Museum is set up which houses a great variety of nativity scenes, creations and sculptures. All very suggestive. Absolutely not to be missed among the stops on the itinerary is the beautiful Church of San Michele Arcangelo, patron saint of Greccio, which dominates the main square of the town from above. The church is accessed via a long staircase. From the churchyard you can take some panoramic photos and enjoy a beautiful view.

From 24 December 2023 to 6 January 2024 the historical representation of the first living nativity scene will take place at the Hermitage of San Francesco.

Despite the harsh climate, if you are in Greccio in December, you cannot miss this performance.

Remember that in this period there are many stands and Christmas markets with craft products and food on sale.

Visit Greccio at Christmas: history

Greek is no longer spoken in upper Sabina, as it might have been more than a thousand years ago if the legend is to be believed of Greek settlers escaping war in their country and settling in Greccio. Just over an hour away by car from Rome, Greccio has a fascinating connection with St Francis of Assisi and with the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem.

First Grecia, then Grece, Grecce and finally Greccio, this picturesque village perched on rocks among the holm oak and beech forests of the Sabina mountains overlooking the Rieti plain attracts visitors from all over the world

They come to see the Franciscan church and monastery, parts of which were founded in 1228 – the same year as the canonisation of the saint – and to look at the modern collection of nativity scenes set in such contrasting situations as a tent in sub-Saharan Africa or an Icelandic igloo. Greccio is now a world centre for such models showing the birthplace of Jesus.

Useful information

Greccio is a pretty, little-known village with a wide central piazza and occupies a panoramic position overlooking the Rieti plain. The former marshland was drained in early Roman times when a canal was dug to the plateau edge at Marmore, allowing the Velino river to cascade into the Terni valley below, forming the highest man-made waterfall in Europe, well worthy of a visit. Check the website to be sure of catching the magical moment when the water is released.

There are several good restaurants in Greccio, not least the appropriately named Nido del Corvo, which has excellent food and a spectacular view.

Getting there

By road from Rome: Take the Via Salaria to Rieti and then turn left and proceed about six km towards Terni, turning off left to Contigliano and then following the signs for Greccio.

By bus from Rome: Cotral bus from Tiburtina to Rieti. Then Cotral bus from Rieti to Greccio.

By train: from Terni in the direction of Rieti, alighting at Greccio station and taking a local bus.

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