Over the weekend, my husband, Baby Boy, and I walked the streets in the town of Ischia Ponte searching for presepi, nativity scenes. These are not your ordinary creches. These are usually made entirely by hand, feature various scenes besides the Holy Family and Wise Men. And each is as unique as the artist (or artists) who create it. Often, they include depictions of life in the neighborhood in which it was made. My father makes one every year that takes up an entire room in his house and includes fountains, live plants, lights, and music. And the ones in Ischia, his home island, where he learned the art of the presepio, bring this tradition to a whole new level. For example, the photo above is of a folk musical troupe that would also build roofs for townspeople in Ischia. They would sing and keep time with the sticks and tools used to flatten the roof. My own grandfather played the clarinet for the group. Many in the group would also dress in costume for ‘Ndrezzata, a traditional folk song and dance that can only be played by those from the town of Buonopane. Nonno was on board for that, too. And those performers, who continue to put on shows today, also made it into this presepio. See below for this and other photos from other presepi around town. Trust me, the pictures don’t do justice to their magnificence.