Nestled in the Val Colvera in the foothills of the Carnian Alps lies a charming little hamlet called Poffabro. A hamlet this small with its population of just 181 wouldn’t normally register on most visitors to the Friuli Venezia Giulia‘s itinerary, but for one month each Christmas seasons people come from far and wide.
You see, Christmas in Italy is still very much a religious celebration about the birth of Christ. You won’t find huge Christmas light displays and department store windows dressed up with dazzling winter scenes, but you will find Nativity scenes (presepe in Italian) all over Italy. Poffabro started a tradition in 1997 with residents of the hamlet displaying Nativity scenes in the windows of their houses.
Year after year, more and more of the residents would participate. Now more than 100 different Nativity scenes are displayed all around the Medieval hamlet. Some are tucked away in the residents’ windows, others displayed in front of buildings. You’ll find everything from the traditional to nativity scenes made from pasta or wine demijohns.
Stop by the Poffabro Tourist Information Office (amazingly there is one and the kind woman working on the day we stopped in did speak English) to see the very first Nativity that was displayed. There’s also a small museum you can visit.
There isn’t much else to see or do besides stroll around the village, but Poffabro is among the most beautiful villages of Italy as listed by Council for Tourism of the National Association of Italian Communes (ANCI). There are a few little local artisans that sell their wood crafts and Poffabro is also well known for the velvet slippers handmade by local craftsman. You can also stop in to the restaurant and try the local specialties like Frico, a cheese in brine that is fried in a pan, or the cured meats.
Know Before You Go