Presepe is an Italian procession in this small hillside village held every year on a day close to Christmas Eve. Mary and Joseph and the donkey start the procession at the Porta of the old walled city. In the parking lot at the bottom of the steep cobblestone streets and throughout the old city are small stalls of roasted chestnuts, all kinds of candy, hard licorice and juicy fruits to purchase as strollers follow the procession. The route of the Holy Family through the old city is marked by torches and round tins of flaming logs. The Holy Family and the donkey stop at prearranged homes for a visit as they follow the route to the top of the hill and the piazza in front of the Duomo/Cathedral. Some musicians and an accordionist follow the procession adding to the gaiety with some Christmas music. All arrive at 9 pm at the Duomo atop the hill.
Our home was one of the stops this year for Mary and Joseph. I was relieved to know no food was required and no food especially for the donkey! It seems all that was required was an open home terrace or garden and a welcome for the Holy Family and the at least 500 people in this small town who followed the Presepe and passed by our door. For me it was a wonderful Christmas experience of welcoming the stranger and the smiles and greetings of “Ciao” and “Arrivederci” brought a wonderful sense of community to the days before Christmas when the Savior of the world came for all community.