A LITTLE OF HISTORY...
We coulda have start this section by a romantic "Once upon a time...", as the
best fairy tales tradition teaches: probably a similar introduction wouldn't have been
out of place, because what we're goin' to expose looks almost like a strange kind of
Anyway, we must always reach just the facts, particularly when one must try to tell the
genesis of a dream that's soon gone over the thin fantasy borders.
But let's start it all from the beginnig...
It was a cold and rainy november evening in the late 1987, when a group of absolute
"dreamers" (between 'em there were ENZO CUNTI,
ENZO MAIELLO and ANTONIO ZINGARO) was talking about various arguments in the main avenue
of the town. Suddenly, the conversation entered about the forthcoming Christmas time and
we started to consider that it woulda have been, as usual, sad and boring for our little
town. With the purpose to make something different for our town, ENZO CUNTI gave the input
to build in Piazza S.Stefano (near the omonimous Church) a little Cave made with wood, to put
inside it the living characters of S.Giuseppe, the Madonna and the Baby Jesus: in one
word, a Holy Nativity representation. Since this looked immediately a great
"program" to work at, an unusual enthusiasm came by between us: now, the fantasy
machine had started to run and soon it woulda have generated the wonderful show that
actually everybody knows!!
In fact, after this little starting proposal, we kept on goin' on talking about the beauty of
the most famous "Presepe Vivente" (the Living Holy Nativity representations) in Italy, but more we were considering how
it coulda have been beautiful to have in Baia e Latina a typycal ambience to made up, as
better possible, a little (!!) Presepe Vivente in our town too. In that exact moment,
came by and had part in the discussion. After he heard
the speech for a while, he suddenly argued "..but why do you guys think we
to go to find a place to make a nice representation like that? We already got it!" and he pointed his open hand up,
in the direction of the old medieval Borgo of the town. First, nobody understood his
extraordinary intuition but we decided anyway to have a walk immediately all together
"climbing" up to the tight passages and the wet stone steps of the Medieval
Borgo and...wow!, NICOLA was absolutely right! Beyond the rainy weather and darkness,
there was really something magic flyin' between those house skeletons ruined from time, in
the penetrating scent of musk on the walls, in the unreal silence that surrounded
everything making the whole ambience sometime enchantressy and fascinating, and sometime
dark and mysterious... Yes, maybe there came the time to let the Medieval Borgo re-born
(..at least, once a year..) after it has been abandoned to its destiny (unlucky..) for too
many years from men and time: it was just born the "Presepe Vivente di Baia e Latina"...
The 1st Edition of the manifestation
(december 24 and 25, 1988) was planned on a little tour a few hundred metres long (no
more than a quarter of the actual ride...!) and we faced up the first logical technical
troubles that we climbed
thanks to the excitement of the
beginners; anyway we registered an incredible emotional participation of the people that
came by, as well the arrivings were circumscribed only at the resident folks and the local
immigrants, that both liked and encouraged the spirit of the exhibition.
After this, the talks about the original show offered by the Presepe Vivente
representation in Baia e Latina, started soon to make proselytes and the 2nd Edition (december 24 and 25, 1989) marked a
massive increase of visitors coming from all the towns and the cities around. As well, the
press begins to be interested to the manifestation, writing important reports on local and
national tabloids. The representation itself, after the first beginning steps, starts to
take the artistical style that would distinguish it from the other ones alike,
to the staff's maniacal and intelligent details care, starting from the wise scenes
lighting (achieved turning off manually one by one the town enlightening and using only torches and
candles placed on the tour way...) 'til the selection of the characters costumes (rent from
specialised theatrical costumes taylor's shops or handly manufactured from the able hands
of our hometown artisans...).
Anyway, after almost 5 years of forced stop due to various problems, the show reaches
its best quality standards by the 3rd Edition
of the Presepe Vivente (december 24, 1995 and january 5, 1996): the exhibition is
published with particular care on various local and national daily journals and the
result is a huge arriving of people coming from wherever... The event also gives the chance to
extend more the ride, reaching the remarkable length of almost three quarters than the
actual one (a few less than one chilometre - over 4.000 ft.!!); more, we put a particular attention
in highlighting as much possible our local artisans work and our typical food and products
peculiarity; in building the scenes it have been used only original ancient instruments,
tools and devices combined with other technical and artistic hints to generally improve
the whole representation impact. The event meets the favourably interest of a lots of
local and national media, but first of all of RAI-Radiotelevisione Italiana (the Italian
State Television) that unexpectedly joined in town with a troupe and making a wonderful
reportage (even thanks to the worthy guide of the director Mrs. Anna CAVASINNI).
So the event was lately seen on
RAI2 inside the TV-show "Prossimo Tuo", making nationally grow the town and the
By the 4th Edition (december 28, 1996)
the representation reaches higher aesthetic levels with enriched details but, in the
spirit of a logical continuos evolution, the ride is enlarged more, reaching the total
length of more than one chilometre: now, a complete visit of the Presepe needs no less
than two hours...!! In the meanwhile, the fame of the "Presepe Vivente di Baia e
Latina" has grown over the expectations and the visitors comes in town copiousness:
at the local residents, gets added thousand of guests comin' from all over
the nearby Regions. But
behind the necessary technical hints made up to carefully avoid it, long rows were
produced at the gate entrance, with a consequential waiting time comprised between 15 and
60/70 minutes; but, except this, the general organization, seemed to sustain almost
perfectly the situation, even if media reporters and cameramans had to work quite with
difficult, 'squeezed' within a human mass of people...
Considering the huge amount of visitors registered in the previous Edition, by the 5th Edition of the manifestion (december 27, 1998) the organization staff members decided to
ameliorate the security of the ride. To do this, they invited a remarkable
number of personnel from the Italian Protezione Civile, Croce Rossa
("Red Cross"), Boy-Scouts, local volunteers and State Police to guard the tour way and
to supply help and assistence to whoever coulda have needed it. This time, the
"organization machine" worked excellently and, thanks also to the large amount
of transceivers employed (over twenty, connected one with each other!!), the entrance and
the exitting to the representation was perfectly managed, with helps and hints in real
time in the critical points or in case of difficulties. By the merely artistic point of
view, by this Edition the staff improved at the best the actors "interpretation"
and the scenes action presented in each sight. In addition, for the first time, all the
visitors received a little souvenir of the Presepe Vivente: some little artistic statues
artisanally handmade from the town's boys and girls.
The 6th Edition of the Living
Nativity has been made up saturday december 29, 2001 and it reached the record
of over 7000 visitors, carefully assisted thanks to a huge security measures
system and an indefinable number of collaborators and volunteers. All this, also
because of the incredible expectation felt in town and in the area around due to
a lucky circumstance that lead some representatives typical characters of our
"Presepe Vivente" to previously join in the RAI1 morning TV show "UnoMattina",
introduced by Paola SALUZZI and Luca GIURATO. During the show, the anchor-woman
Paola Saluzzi also talked about our representation as "..one of the most
beautiful Living Nativities of Italy..".
The participation at the show reached a remarkable national success, also
because last but not least, we surmounted the concourse of other 31 similar
And here it came the 7th Edition, performed
friday 26 and saturday 27 december 2003. The Presepe Vivente of Baia e Latina
registered the usual success among the people: a huge crowd came in town to see
the pageant even if in the meanwhile there were other 5 representations alike in
the towns closer. This simply meant that actually the Presepe Vivente di Baia e
Latina was going to become the most important Xmas pageant of the whole area.
More, suddenly in the neighbour towns, it started growing a lots of similar
representations and, very often, we also noticed they was a complete copy of our
original one!!.. Anyway, it was impossible for anybody to recreate the
atmosphere and wonderful magic of the Medieval Borgo of Baia e Latina, so thata
over 10.000 visitors come to see our Presepe Vivente. Also various national
newspapers (like "La Repubblica" and "Il Mattino") talks about the
representation describing it in a very special way. Last but not least, during
the second day performance (saturday december 27 and, partially, in the late
evening of the sunday 28), a film troupe hit the town and place one of his sets
right facing the Holy Nativity scene grotto, even working hardly between
thousand of intrigued visitors: and all this, just to complete the taking of the
last mass scenes for the film "UN NATALE DIVERSO" ("A differents Christmas"),
directed by Francesco De Gregorio, whose main scenes have been filmed since two
years just in our town and on our wild hills...
Edition of the Presepe Vivente, has been performed monday,
2005, featuring a special new: the presence of a medieval open fare and market
between the representation, featuring a lots of local and foreign salers
exposing their merchandise inside some of the oldest houses of the town.
But unlucky, behind all the organisation efforts, the representation has been
deeply affected by a hurting rain that made extremely difficult walking,
resulting in a slowly and uncomfortable visit of the pageant to the still
numerous mass of visitors...
And the story goes on, waiting for the next forthcoming
Edition of the "Presepe Vivente - Cittą di Baia e Latina (CE)"...
Well, it looks yesterday, but since that fundamental "cold and rainy
november evening of the 1987" almost 20 years are flied away and a lots of adversities
passed by (..and someone, unlucky, very very sad..). But the "Presepe Vivente di Baia
e Latina" it's still here, dumb witness of the time flowing, with its five past
Editions and a success always increasing year by year that makes it be the worthiest reference
point for all other similar representations in the area around. That's why, still now,
its magic atmospheres are all synthesized in the slogan initially created from ENZO CUNTI
and that represents the main light that guides all the staff members to give the visitors
(..as better it's possible..) always something more.
Because this is, and it must forever remain:
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Presepe Vivente Baia e Latina - All rights reserved.
Concept, Artwork & Programming by ENZO MAIELLO.
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