Just some kilometres north of Tuscany are the magnificent Cinque Terre. These five villages are on the rugged coast of Liguria distinguished by its steep landscape and brightly coloured houses.
A very popular tourist destination, Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare are a UNESCO Heritage Site. Manarola is the second-smallest and probably the oldest of the five.
Every year during the Christmas season, the terraced hill overlooking Manarola comes to life with 17.000 light bulbs recreating a striking nativity scene with over 300 figures scattered all over the fields. The most extraordinary thing is that this was all created by a retired railway man, Mario Andreoli, to fulfil the wish of his father who had started the tradition with a simple cross in 1961.
Starting in 1976, slowly for thirty years, using recycled materials and a photovoltaic system Mr. Andreoli created an unprecedented masterpiece which covered the whole hill. When it was officially inaugurated in 2007, it instantly made it to the Guinness World Records as the world’s largest nativity scene. Over 8 km of electrical wiring was used.
Every year on the 8th of December, the festivity of the Immaculate Conception, at 6 pm Mr. Andreoli lights his crèche followed by a choir concert, a live nativity scene in period costumes, a candlelight procession and a firework show.
The lights will remain on until the end of January.