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Calvi dell' Umbria (Terni province)

A town of southern Umbria: 42°24N, 12°34E. Altitude: 401 m. Population in 2003: 1800.

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A detail of the 16th‑century crèche.

Calvi is Umbria's southernmost comune, 10 km southeast of Otricoli and 26 km south of Narni; it's an isolated hilltown of medieval appearance whose main claim to fame is its long and assiduous cultivation of the Christmas crèche as an art form. The tradition must surely be connected with St. Francis's invention of the crèche at Gréccio, across the border in the Reatine Lazio but only about 20 km away. At any rate, at Christmastime the comune participates in creating a live crèche at S. Maria della Neve; the town also has year-round frescoes of the Nativity on many of its houses' outside walls — to the point that one of the guidebooks recommends you remember to keep looking up as you walk around.

The theme finds its oldest expression in a magnificent 16c glazed ceramic crèche in the church of S. Antonio; the church itself curiously shares an 18c façade with that of S. Brigitta. The 14c church of S. Maria has a mid‑16c baptismal font; a church and convent founded by St. Francis himself is now in ruins.

Going back in time, a few good pieces of Roman sculpture can be found in town (if you work at it), and about 8 km northeast of Calvi itself, the hermitage of S. Pancrazio sits right next to the remains of a pre-Roman shrine.

A proper website will eventually appear here, since I've been to Calvi. In the meanwhile, you should thus find it useful to read the Aug. 21, 2000 entry of my diary, that includes at least one photo; for further information, see the websites linked in the navigation bar at the bottom of this page.


Like most of the comuni in Italy, Calvi includes in its territory some smaller towns and hamlets, of a few hundred inhabitants if that, with a certain administrative identity of their own: as elsewhere in Italy, these are referred to as the frazioni of the comune (singular: frazione, literally a "fraction"): a complete list of them follows. I haven't been to any of them yet, so any links will be offsite.

Piloni • Poggiolo • Santa Maria della Neve

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Page updated: 31 Oct 17