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We are always interested in new events, especially that quirky festival which is only known locally. For example every year in the tiny village of Volterrano in Umbria on the border with Tuscany and only 40 minutes from Cortona, there is a fabulous living nativity from Christmas Eve until the 6th of January. Regardless of the weather the entire community helps to setup, run and take part in what I would say at first hand is one of the most amazing things I have ever seen. From local artisans working with traditional materials dressed in period clothing to the arrival of the three wise men and the stable with Mary and Joseph and a real baby Jesus, this Presepe is so magical I now take the time to go every year.
Volterrano is in the Nestore Valley, a tributary of the River Tiber and forms part of the Upper Tiber Valley. This part of Italy is known for its natural beauty. The Upper Tiber Valley is steeped in history with several medieval hilltop towns (Monte Santa Maria Tiberina), ruined Castles, restored towers and 16th century stone farmhouses. Next to Volterrano is the village of Morra (in the province of Citta di Castello) with a 12th century church (San Crescentino), where you will find a little known fresco by Signorelli. Luca Signorelli (1441 - 1523) is one of the great Italian Renaissance painters and is regarded in the same light as Piero della Francesca and Andrea del Verrocchio. In fact Signorelli was a pupil of Piero della Francesco. Legend has it that Luca Signorelli arrived in the Village of Morra and fell in love with a local girl, therefore staying and painting the frescos whilst enjoying the fruits of life.
The fresco is unfortunately badly damaged but still one is able to see Luca Signorelli's masterful ability in perspective painting. The fresco depicting the Flagellation of Christ which was restored in the early 1990's with funds donated from Alberto Burri, the world famous 20th century abstract artist whose studio was between Volterrano and Morra.
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