The idea of the nativity scene, the crib that lies along the hill of the “Tre Croci” in Manarola, Cinque Terre, was born form the hands, the genius and the imagination of Mario Andreoli. From his will and his determination. And, I would add, form his cellar that everyone dearly calls sacristy.
The imagination of Mario Andreoli
Everyone has stepped by Mario’s sacristy, the secular one. On the wall, on the right as you enter, you can see a collage of photographs. All kinds of political and cultural personalities but also common people, who Mario, moreover, greets as personalities (because he considers them as such). The nativity scene and the genius of Mario pour out from there. And from there, it takes shape his wine, the schachetrà (his pride is in particular the red wine, the Cannaiolo, “the one for the ladies” as he often says).
Maybe it is due to the fact that my friends, the very first friends of my childhood, were my grandparents’ old friends and I used to walk along the “Giardinetta”, or to go on the Fiat 127 or on the three-wheeler with them. Mario, to me, is first of all a friend.
The physical strength and the head, the genius.
In the cold mornings of December, before going to the office or going to work in the shops of Manarola, we went among the vineyard and the statues to give a hand to Mario…the switch on had been a real emotion. As usual, more than usual because it had been as reaching a victory at the last second possible. And I think that this victory had been the cure that helped the “railway man”, as he is often called, regaining his top shape.
People have invaded the church square and all the panoramic viewpoints of Manarola and from there they have seen the lighting, the candlelight and the fireworks… a real day of celebration for all ages.
A celebration belonging to people, both to those people living in the Cinque Terre and also those coming from all over the world to see Mario’s “big hands” lighting up the 17thousend lights with his remote control.
By now the lighting statues are part of the landscape. Just like the dry stone walls and the paths along the Cinque Terre.
The nativity scene lives. It needs attentions; it must be looked after and taken care of, like a child.
But the astonishing thing is that from the moment of his last switch on, January 31st, Mario will start thinking about how to amaze and improve his nativity scene on 8th December 2020, day for next Christmas switch on .The wind and the rain put through test the kilometers of cables of the electrical system.
Every statue takes scientifically its own space up, year after year, Christmas after Christmas. From the moment in which the crazy clear-headed experiment began by lighting some Crosses with the battery power of cars. Even then the impact must have been amazing because the lights stood out in the dark of the hill, in the dark of a hamlet where the public lighting didn’t exist yet.