On the map, it is known as San Gregorio Armeno Street, but Italians and above all Neapolitans know it as the Via dei Presepi (Cribs Street). If the northern and central towns are typical for their Christmas markets, Naples carries the flag of the southern most Christmas city par excellence. In this street, in the heart of the historic center, where Christmas is practically all year round, craftsmen have made throughout centuries figurines to decorate the crib. The notoriety of the street of the artisanal cribs has gone beyond the national borders making it known all over the world for its uniqueness.
The street of the cribs exists all year round but during the month that anticipates Christmas it begins to crowd with tourists. Also many Neapolitans care about this art and come to buy their piece to add to their crib. When you walk into these narrow streets, you become part of a Neapolitan comedy and every visitor will keep a part of the identity and essence of this mysterious city.
The presepial tradition has very ancient roots. First sculptures were made in terracotta in the pagan era, while from the eighteenth century the real Neapolitan nativity scene made of polychrome terracotta, wood and glass was born. The artisans manually create the characters of Christmas: real hand-painted artworks and tailor-made clothes.
The Cribs Streets is located in Spaccanapoli, the beating heart of the city, where the workshops of the artisans are located, with their exclusive pieces. Here you can find all you need for the construction of your crib; artistic and high-end pieces, representations of Holy Family, the ox and the donkey, terracotta shepherds in all sizes, various representations of crafts without excluding the famous lucky red horns.
Neapolitan humor emerges, however, in the creation of irreverent and ironic kitsch statues that sagaciously describe the Italians and global current affairs: from the politician of the moment, to football players (Maradona primarily, because he is celebrated by the Neapolitans as a deity), from the show’s VIPs to Pope Francis.
The prices of the artworks vary a lot depending on the level of art employed and on the size. A shepherd for example can go from a few euros up to thousands of euros for the most accurates. It is also possible to stop and admire the artists at work into their shops, but for this kind of visits it is definitely advisable to go out of season, to avoid the crowds of tourists into the street during Christmas holidays.