A Nativity Scene on The Hill

There is Christmas spirit tucked at the end of a short driveway on Federal Hill.

Our Italian teacher, Maria Mansella, told us we should forego our traditional last class in December and meet at Eugenio Milano’s home. It was a great suggestion.

Italy is famous for its nativity scenes. Presepe means crib or crèche, and the one in Mr. Milano’s yard celebrated that tradition. It was delightful.

Because of the complexity and the size of his nativity scene and village, Eugenio started to assemble it in early November, just as he has done for over thirty years. “It is tradition. My family loves it. Even though they have moved away and have families of their own, they always come back.”
The colored lights over the way (“Just like in Italy, “said Gene) and the Italian flag gives one a clue to the joy of the season that lay ahead. The reward at driveway’s end was one of the finest presipi I have seen; assembled and partially crafted by Eugenio.

Eugenio, Connie, Prof Mansella

The scene didn’t just consist of Baby Jesus, Mary, Joseph and the Three Wise Men. He created a whole village around the manger itself, with homes, tiny roads and churches at different levels, as if one were walking up the hills of the town. He even had made a small home that resembled his in Molise, Italy, from whence he came so many years ago. The lights sparkled and complemented the stars above on this crisp winter evening.

Eugenio took great pride in creating this elaborate scene with lighting, backdrops and multiple figures. The finished Presepe was complete with twinkling Christmas lights, hay, grass and carpeting to resemble the manger scene and its surroundings. It was beautiful.

In the 13th century in a cave in the small town of Greccio, Italy, St. Francis was the first to build and popularize a manger scene and celebrate Mass.

In this small yard tucked among the many neighboring homes on Federal Hill, Eugenio had created his masterpiece, much like St. Francis’ idea so many centuries ago. With love, he shared it with us.

Thank you, Eugenio. Thank you for continuing this wonderful slice of our Italian culture.

Buon Natale

By | 2017-12-15T14:06:54+00:00 December 18th, 2017|Christmas|13 Comments


  1. Ed De Matteis December 18, 2017 at 2:47 pm - Reply

    Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas….and a BIG THANK YOU for all the memories……Be well….

    • Ed December 18, 2017 at 2:50 pm - Reply

      Thank you, Ed. Buon Natale e Buon Capodanno

  2. Velia DelSesto December 18, 2017 at 4:35 pm - Reply

    Thank you for injecting this bit of nostalgia in an otherwise hectic holiday season. We need a reminder of what Christmas is really all about. Wishing you and
    yours a blessed Christmas and a peaceful New Year.

  3. Velia DelSes December 18, 2017 at 4:41 pm - Reply

    Thank you for Injecting this bit of nostalgia In an otherwise hectic holiday season. Wishing you a blessed Chrisrmas.

    • Ed December 18, 2017 at 4:50 pm - Reply

      You are right, Velia. Let’s sit back, take a deep breath and be thankful.
      Buon Natale e Buon Capodanno

  4. Maria C Mansella December 18, 2017 at 5:10 pm - Reply

    The Presepe is the heart of the Christmas traditions in Italy. We are grateful to Mr. Eugenio Milano for continuing such tradition, here in the heart of Federal Hill, Providence. His craftsmanship, dedication and love for everything Italian was transparent as the students were able to converse with him in Italian. Thank you, Ed for capturing beautiful memories and for appreciating our visit. It was an enjoyable evening. I wish you and your family Buon Natale! AUGURI!

    • Ed December 18, 2017 at 5:36 pm - Reply

      Maria, you are, quite simply, the best.

  5. Ralph G. December 18, 2017 at 6:59 pm - Reply

    Thank you for all the great stories – especially the holiday stories. Your family experiences sound so much like my own. Love it! I hope that you and your family enjoy a happy and holy Christmas (Buon Natale) and a healthy 2018.

    • Ed December 18, 2017 at 7:02 pm - Reply

      Thank you, Ralph. Altrettanto

  6. peter voccio jr December 19, 2017 at 11:23 am - Reply

    DR. ED ,

    A heart warming story , beautiful folks and a lovely photo.

    Merry Christmas to all. Buon Natale

    • Ed December 19, 2017 at 2:46 pm - Reply

      A beautiful evening in many ways.

  7. Joseph Bustin December 21, 2017 at 9:49 pm - Reply

    Merry Christmas to you Dr. Ed and all of your family. I have enjoyed reading your stories immensely. Good health and happiness in the New Year. Joe Bustin

    • Ed December 21, 2017 at 10:50 pm - Reply

      Thank you for your nice comments, Joe. So nice to hear from you.
      Merry Christmas and Happy Healthy New Year

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