This year’s 'Living Nativity Scenes’ Festival in Matera’s rock-cut Sassi districts will showcase nine unique performances during the festive season. The Murgia plateau in the Park of the Rupestrian Churches will be illuminated with a dozen caves, adding to the special atmosphere of the event.

Luca Prisco, director of the Matera Convention Bureau, explained that the soft lighting is solar-powered during a press conference attended by Mayor Domenico Bernardi and Park Agency President Giovanni Mianulli.

The new lighting has been installed following the approval of the Environmental Incidence Assessment (VINCA) by the Basilicata regional government.

The festival kicked off with a performance on December 8, and will continue with a total of nine performances until January 6, 2024.

A major highlight of the festival was the December 9 show, which coincided with the 30th anniversary of the Sassi and the Park of the Rupestrian Churches of Matera being admitted to UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites.

During the ceremony that evening, Matera and Greccio were officially twinned. Greccio, located in the province of Rieti, has upheld the tradition of staging nativity scenes for over 800 years, a practice that was originally started by Saint Francis of Assisi.

A spectacular 'videomapping’ show in Piazza San Pietro Caveoso brought to life the historic meeting between Saint Francis of Assisi and Pope Honorius III.

The Living Nativity Scene, directed by renowned theatre director Giampiero Francese, unfolded along a four kilometre route, beginning in the city centre and winding through the Sasso Barisano and the Sasso Caveoso. The production showcased 200 professional actors, extras, and members of theatre companies from across the country.

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