March 24, 2023

Octave and Roland Berthelot, Village miniature / Miniature village

picture (2022) courtesy of Sonia Terhzaz

The above image shows part of a miniature village, an art environment in a garden in the small hamlet of Saint-Martin Villenglose, located along the departmental road D27, about three kilometers from the municipality of Saint-Denis-d'Anjou, of which it forms part.

The town of Saint-Denis-d'Anjou, located in the Mayenne region in the north-west of France, with approximately 1550 inhabitants (2019). is also not extensive. 

picture (2009) of the chapel in Saint-Martin Villenglose,
by Benjamin Smith, licensed under Creative Commons

However, the town attracts many visitors because of its characteristic atmosphere due to the various buildings from previous centuries, such as churches, mansions, wooden halls from the 16th century and a house inhabited by monastics from the 15th century, which has been converted into a town hall.

One of the town's ecclesiastical buildings, pictured above, is the chapel in Saint-Martin Villenglose, which was built in the 15th century using local tuff and freestone. The chapel is located along the departmental road crossing the hamlet Saint-Martin Villenglose, and it attracts many interested visitors. 

When these people look over the hedge that surrounds the chapel, they will catch glimpses of a castle-like miniature building in the neighboring garden, as can be seen on Google Streetview 

This miniature is part of an ensemble of miniatures, an art environment which is not open to visitors on a regular basis. 

this picture and the next one courtesy of  © Francis David

More about this art environment

This ensemble of miniatures was created by Octave Berthelot (1930-2015). 

At a young age he wanted to become an architect, but his parents couldn't afford the education and so he had to earn his living by working at a poultry farm and later as a bricklayer.

He married and the couple settled in a house in the hamlet Saint-Martin Villenglose. next to the chapel.

In the early 1960s, when he was in his early thirties, Octave Berthelot started building a miniature village in the backyard of his house. 

He worked with slabs of slate and with pieces of marble from the Bouère quarry near Laval, the capital of the Mayenne region. To reduce the size of the slabs, he first used a sledgehammer and then a small hammer. In addition, he also used concrete for the base of the creations and white cement for the interconnection of construction elements and for their finishing.

Some of the buildings he constructed are inspired by existing ones, such as a garage in Saint Denis d'Anjou, the church of Saint Pierre in the commune of Bierné-les-Villages, not far from St Denis d'Anjou in the Mayenne region, the church Notre Dame de l’Assomption in Ernée, also in the Mayenne area and the Montfort Castle in the Dordogne area..

Other larger constructions have sprung from his imagination, such as the Château Mon Rêve (Castle of my dreams). And then there is a variety of miniatures of all kinds of structures such as a windmill, a grocery store, a farrier, a lighthouse, and one can also see composite scenes such as a fishing port and a waterfall.

The buildings in the site can be illuminated at night.

this picture (2022) courtesy of Sonia Terhzaz

When in the late 1990s Octave Berthelot wanted to move to another village, his son Roland was willing to take care of the maintenance of the creations. He was born in 1955 and became a carpenter by trade. He is currently retired and lives in the parental home. 

Roland was about seven years old when his father started the project, and as a boy he already helped develop the creation if it turned out that way.

Roland Berthelot himself had also a hobby of making miniatures, but then mainly from wood and not for outdoor use. For example, he had covered with matches the model his father had made in preparation for the actual construction of the Montfort Castle.  He had kept track of his working hours and the humber of matches: 612 hours of work, spread over three years, and 15.000 matches.

He also made a miniature house, with an interior provided with a variety of furniture and a spiral staircase, all clearly visible after lifting the roof of the house.

Roland also took care of the restoration of the structures in his father's creation, which were now decades old. He didn't mind to renew all slate roofs, an extensive project that must have required a lot of energy and willpower, but which also testifies the respect he had for his father's creation.

Currently Roland is limited in his activities due to an arthritis that has affected his hands.

Octave Berthelot
photo Francis David
Ronald Berthelot
photo Sonia Terhzaz

This site with miniature constructions is little known in the field of art environments in France. Just a few publications are available on the internet. The creation was also not regularly open to visitors, perhaps with the exception of an opening announced in the regional press in the summer of 2021.

* Entry on the website Habitants-Paysagistes (Lille Art Museum) with a series of pictures by Francis David
* Article (March 2017) in French newspaper Actu
* Article  (March 17, 2023) by Sonia Terhzaz on Facebook, with a report of a meeting she had with Roland Berthelot in 2022

Octave and Ronald Berthelot
Miniature Village
on a side street of the D27 near the chapel in the hamlet of Saint-Martin-Villenglose, 
part of Saint Denis d'Anjoudept Mayenne, region Pays de la Loire, France
visits on appointment
streetview (October 2021)

March 17, 2023

Vasily Petrovich Hlushkovskyi, Двір загублених іграшок / Yard of lost toys

pictures are screenprints from the video in the documentation


The following post is about an art environment in Lviv, the sixth largest city in Ukraine, located in the west of the country near the border with Poland. With regard to art environments in Ukraine, 11 reviews have now been published in this weblog. This new article is the first to appear after Russia invaded Ukraine.

This weblog is not about politics, but an indication of the situation in the area where the site is located from he perspective of the ongoing war, is in my opinion indispensable. In this regard, a good source is a recent interview (end of February 2023) by Eurocities with the first deputy mayor of Lviv, Andriy Moskalenko, who is responsible for economic development.

One can read about the challenge of housing the hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians who had to leave their homes because of the war and ended up in Lviv. And one can also read about the attacks on the energy supply, which resulted in 40% less capacity being available. The article shows that the city's administrators are not giving up, as the title of the article says: We are finding a way to continue living.

The Yard of Lost Toys

It all began in 2009. 

Vasily Petrovich Hlushkovskyi, a bricklayer, born in the early 1960s and living in the old center of Lviv, found two dolls, which he placed in the yard behind a block of houses in the old center where he lived, assuming that the owner would find those dolls and take them back. 

However, that didn't happen.

At that time, the moment was approaching when Vasily would get a grandson. It occurred to him that he could turn the yard, which is open to the public, into a play area for that grandson, with a swing and, a sandbox. and a display of dolls, including lost ones.

So Vasily Petrovich started collecting dolls, asking friends and acquaintances if they still had dolls that were no longer played with. His neighbors also contributed to the growth of a display of dolls.

As the site became more widely known, residents from other parts of the city also brought their superfluous dolls.

People also came to bring all kinds of other things, such as toy cars, a train to play with, children's stools, all kinds of portraits, a birdcage, a pair of boots, books, old musical instruments. They were given a place in the yard or in cupboards and on shelves along the walls all around.

Gradually, the display also became a place that attracted tourists, although the site was not mentioned in tourist guides.

Exhibiting dolls in the open carries the risk of them deteriorating and becoming a pitiful sight. 

The photos all around, from a video taken in the early months of 2020, show that the dolls are generally looking good. It has been reported that Vasily Petrovich regularly got up early to check the collection and if necessary remove decayed dolls or other broken props.

People who visited the Yard of lost toys could react very differently to what they saw. 

There are people who have a pleasant experience and find the site joyful. but there are also those who refer to the site as awesome, creepy and bizarre. For example, see the more than 3300 comments from visitors to the entry related to the site on Google Maps (see documentation)

In the course of 2020, the art environment came under siege. A commentary published in June 2020 said that local women threw all the toys in the trash. The site has since been closed.

* Entry on website Camera Obscura
* Article on the website Bestportal, with some 50 photos 
* Article on the website of Ukrainska Pravda, with a series of photos

Video (YouTube, 6'33", 2020)  by Z Kamerą W Plecaku (With Camera In Backpack)


Vasily Petrovich Hlushkovskyi
Yard of lost toys
Knyazya Leva street 3.
Lviv, Lviv Oblast, Ukraine
site doesn't exist anymore
on Google Maps the site has over 3300 reviews and over 4000 photos

March 10, 2023

Alain and Nicole Moumen, Jardins Secrets / Secret gardens

images are screenshots of the video in the documentation

The Jardins Secrets ornamental flower garden, which can be visited by the public in the summer months, has such peculiar built structures and decorations, that from the point of view of art environments it can be classified as a singular architecture.
These aspects in particular are described in more detail in the following post.

tower-like and iron wire constructions on a roof

Life and works

The garden, located in the hamlet Lagnat in the Haute-Savoie department in France, is a creation of Alain and Nicole MoumenAlain was born in the early 1940s in Tunisia,  where he trained as a teacher, Nicole was born in Morocco and studied psychology in Grenoble, Switzerland.

They met in the Savoie region of France, married, and between 1966 and 1968 had three daughters, Leïla, Myriam and Sonia, who would father eight grandchildren.

more wire decorations

Alain and Simone were a creative couple. In 1969 they founded a company called Le chant des Fleurs (The song of the flowers), which focused on the production of furniture, although neither had any relevant training in this field. Alain designed and manufactured the furniture and Nicole decorated it colorfully.

In 1980 they bought an old farm in the hamlet of Lagnat, just outside Vaulx, a commune in the Haute-Savoie, a beautiful tourist region bordering Switzerland. Here they could live and establish their furniture workshop and storage place. But here they could also offer their teenage daughters a creative, cozy place to live.

floor tiles
more tile work

The farm, with 7000 m2 of land and a beautiful old chestnut tree, was rather neglected and Alain and Nicole had to spend a lot of time refurbishing the accommodation, this in addition to the work for their furniture company.

The renovation of the building was not done with the idea of creating an ornamental garden that could be visited by the public. Alain only got that idea on a winter day, after the renovation was well advanced.

more towers and constructions of iron wire

Creating the "Jardins Secrets".

The ornamental garden was opened to the public in 1994.

Located on a bend in a rural road, hidden behind a large wall, the site of the Secret Gardens is a well-kept secret, consisting of a varied collection of flowers and plants spread across multiple locations, each with a different atmosphere and surrounded by a variety of built structures, all with a specific architecture.

For the construction of the various structures and decorative elements, wood materials such as sequoia, cedar and larchwood were used extensively, but also recycled materials such as wire iron, copper rods and pieces of glass.

the old chestnut tree in the middle of the decorations

The atmosphere evoked by the architecture is not typically French, but is rather reminiscent of the style of architecture in Tibet or in Mediterranean countries in North Africa such as Tunisia or Morocco, but even more so of the Moorish style of Andalusia, Spain, with buildings such as the Alhambra or the Mosque of Córdoba

In the Jardins Secrets, the influence of Moorish architecture is reflected in the many columns, connected at the top and arranged in long rows, as in the very first image and the one above. One of the separate  parts of the Jardins Secrets is indeed the Jardin Andalou, which refers to the Alhambra.

In France there is one art environment with connected columns, the garden of Rosa Mir in Lyon, built by Jules Senis (1913-1983), a tiler and bricklayer from Spain, who moved to France to escape the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939).

towers galore

Another specific characteristic of the architecture of the Jardins Secrets is the way the roofs are decorated.

In the image above, the roof is equipped with a large number of small wooden towers and also a series of circular creations, made of iron wire. Such an arrangement can also be seen in the image below.

The turrets on the roofs have the special feature that birds like to stay there, just as bats find their home in the wooden galleries.

another view of a decorated roof

On the ground floor is the collection of flowers and plants, a sumptuous whole, mainly of local varieties appropriate to the climate of Haute-Savoie. grouped in several separate presentations, 

As the image below left shows, a presentation, such as this one in a courtyard, can be surrounded by small tower-like structures.

The bottom right image shows a presentation of flowers and plants around a decorated square stone structure, with a stone block in the center. It also shows part of the paving of the paths between the presentations, mainly made of pebbles, worked according to a classical Roman technique.

an inner court
a floor with pebbles

The creation of Alain and Nicole Moumen also includes several ponds and a large number of fountains, eight of which bear the name of the couple's grandchildren. The water of the ponds and fountains comes from a reservoir that is filled through the many gutters that collect the rainwater.

There is also a swimming pool on the site, created by Moumen in honor of his daughters who helped to manufacture various elements of the site in their younger days.

The Jardins Secrets includes a total of twenty interior and exterior spaces, which in the post could only be partly shown in the images.

Alain Moumen is now (2023) in his early 80s and his wife Nicole will be about the same age. They have handed over the day-to-day management of the garden to their daughter Myriam. 

Nicole Moumen is currently writing a book in which she describes her experiences with the construction of the ornamental garden. The book La vie en fleur (Living with Flowers) will be published in spring 2023.

* Website of the Jardins Secrets
Facebook, pages of the Jardins Secrets
* Article (September 2020) by Céline Péters on Linkedin
* Tripadvisor with almost 700 photos of the site

Video (2016, YouTube13'25") by JPP Keyser

Alain and Nicole Moumen
Jardins Secrets
1561 Route de Lagnat, Hameau de Lagnat, 74150 Vaulx, dept Haute-Savoie, 
region Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, France
visitors welcome (entrance fee)

March 03, 2023

Erkki Niemi, Elämyspiha / Garden of experiences

screenprint from the video in the documentation

Visitors to Elämyspiha (Garden of experiences in Finland are welcomed by singer Adama from Kenya and the musicians Joni, guitar, Miro, drums, Pete, accordion and Long Sami, saxophone, together the International Rock Orchestra

Here's a close up of the group:

this picture and the next ones from Elämyspiha's FB-page

Life and works

Elämyspiha, a decorated garden intended to give children and their parents a pleasant and active day in the open air, was created by Erkki Niemi, assisted by his wife Marja..

Niemi, who was born in 1939 and is now retired, worked in the metal industry as the operator of a machine workshop. He was an entrepreneurial and active person who loved going on a journey, making trips through Finland on his bike, like he also was involved in the activities of all kinds of Finnish organizations. 

Characteristic of Niemi is, for example, that during a trip to Austria in 1987, he bought a piggy bank and became so enthusiastic about it that he was going to collect piggy banks and now, with more than 900 copies, owns the largest collection in Finland.

Provided with so much pleasure in life and energy, it is not so incomprehensible that after his professional life, he was looking for a hobby in which he could get rid of his energy and at the same time do something meaningful, this in particular for the younger generation in Finland.

Near his house, located along a main road, is a grassy outdoor space of around 3000 m². In 2000 he started decorating this area with many sculptures and structures and now there are about a hundred items.

To make his creations, Niemi used all kinds of disused items made of metal, wooden sticks and other remnants. His creations of people, as shown in the images above, show that his work has its own specific characteristic.

Apart from the representations of people, the site mainly features creations that facilitate activities for the visiting children. For example, in the foreground of the image above we see a zebra and in the background Pippi Longstocking's horse Pikku-Uko, both creations available for children to sit on and take an imaginary ride.

Making a ride is also possible with the small blue cart that can be seen in the image. It's Grandma Duck's car, loved by kids to sit behind the wheel.

There are also other animals to ride, such as the wolf above left and the dinosaur, above right. 
dino, for children only. 

Also good for some mobility is the climbing rock provided with steps by Niemi, as pictured below.

This climbing rock is intended for children, but there is a story on Facebook that even a 89-year-old has climbed it.

Also on Facebook, Niemi has told that he explained a lively child that one can climb the rock. The boy looked at the rock for a while and then said he couldn't, because, as he said: This is a stone for five year olds and I am only three. After which Niemi, other than usual, was a bit speechless.

Viewed from the field of art environments, it is most interesting to look at the design of the sculptures, so here are two more examples. 

Above left a sculpture of one of the last of the Mohicans, referred to in Finnish as Seisova Karhu (Standing Bear) and above right a Donald Duck, a character that is well known to children and therefore also manifests itself fully in this garden.

Below is another image of a sculpture, this one depicting a lady operating a water pump,

The garden of experiences offers a variety of opportunities to be active, such as playing with golf balls, knocking over bowling pins, or throwing tires. 

You can play with an electric train and search for treasure in four different ways. And then, if you manage to free Little Red Riding Hood from the wolf, you can get a diploma.

Adult visitors to the site may also be interested in its botanical aspects. The garden has a wealth of plants, all presented with their names in Finnish and Latin.

And then there's a pool, which Niemi excavated himself and completed in less than a month. It has a diameter of 4,6 m and a depth of 1,3 m and there are 300 balls floating in it to play with, a sea of balls, as Niemi says.


* Facebook page of Elämyspiha

Article  (September 2015) on newspaper Tarinoita Janakkalasta
* Article (March 2022) on the Finnish website Middle of Nowhere
* Article by Juho Haavisto on the website Maaseudun Sivistysliitto (ITE-art)

* Video on Facebook Watch  (2016, 3'35")

Erkki Niemi 
Garden of experiences
Lintuvuorentie 14
Turenki (part of the Municipality of Janakkala), dept Tavastia Proper, 
region Southern Finland, Finland
visitors welcome

February 24, 2023

Günther Herr, Schloss Fischbach / Fischbach Castle

this picture and the next two courtesy of Gwyn Headley

On October 13, 2014, Gwyn Headley, a Welshman who published a lot about follies, added an article on the fotoLibra weblog From Harlech & London, describing how he, driving his car near Fischbach in Germany, came to a halt in a traffic jam and, when looking around through the brush along the road, catched a glimpse of what appeared to be some kind of castle, 

As a lover of follies, he did not hesitate to turn around and he managed to approach the building via a side road. It turned out to be a folly indeed, made by someone with the initials GH according to a designation on the gate around the building. The gate was closed and there was no one around to talk to about this singular architecture.

The two photos above and the one below give an idea of what kind of creation mr Headley found near Fischbach. In his article he asked if anyone knew more about this special structure, but it remained silent. just as I in 2014 could not find any further information.
However, I saved Headley's article for future reference and in 2022 I found the information about the site I used to edit the now following text.

Life and works

The initials GH represent Günther Herr, born in Fischbach in 1927, now in his mid-90s and -as far as I know- still actively involved in the creation he began to realize in 1967 at age forty. Mr Günther Herr is described as someone a little special, but very warm and open. Apart from his construction activities, in his spare time he likes to play the violin and make paintings

When young Günther left primary school in 1944, Germany was still at war, and just 16 years old he was called up for military service. After Germany had capitulated he was made a prisoner of war, from which he was released in June 1945. 

this picture and the next six, 
screenprints from the video in the documentation

As a young man, Günther wanted to be a forest ranger, but he was unable to realize that dream and instead trained as a carpenter, to work in construction for many decades afterwards.

Günther Herr settled in Kelkheim, the municipality of which Fischbach, with about 5900 inhabitants. is part. 

Near a creek that crosses Fischbach, Günther Herr acquired a piece of land. Around 1977 the B455 through road would be built close to that site or perhaps partly through it, because it is mentioned that Herr's site was reduced in size.

In any case, there was enough room left for the castle and adjacent structures Günther Herr was building.

Inspired by the famous Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, Germany, Günther Herr built his creation from stones he collected in the area and transformed with cement into building elements of washed concrete. The proximity of the creek was very favorable for this washing. All kinds of other materials, such as unused old household objects,  unnecessary furniture, old car parts, whatever, also got a new destination during construction.

The fairytale appearance of Fischbach Castle is also reflected in the slender towers that adorn the structure and the use of colorful elements in its construction.

Günther Herr's creation is a fine addition to the modest range of art environments known in Germany, compared to France, for example. With a single article in a regional newspaper. this site got only modest publicity.

Gunther Herr at age 94

* Article (October 2014) by Gwyn Headley in weblog fotoLibra
* Article (August 2016) in newspaper Frankfurter Neue Presse

* Video by Maintower (ARD TV) on Facebook Watch

Günther Herr
Fischbach Castle
Fischbach, municipality of Kelkheim, dept Main-Taurus, federal state Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany
can be seen from the road

February 17, 2023

Joseph Méray, Jardin decoré / Decorated garden

this photo and the next one courtesy of Francis David
from the website Habitants-Paysagistes 
© Lille Art Museum © Francis David

Very impressive, the elephant sculpture of 2000 kilos shown above. It is a 1960s creation made by Joseph Méray (1922-2019) to embellish the surroundings of his home in Merlimont in the Pas-de-Calais department in northwestern France.

Life and works

Born in the early 1920s, young Joseph Méray, due to family circumstances. was soon placed in an orphanage. 

The director of the house was impressed by the boy's slumbering artistic talent when there was a sand figure competition and he created a beautiful elephant. At that time there was no possibility for the director to arrange an art education and Meray would get a profession as a tailor.

sculpture of a bull in the front yard

Once grown up, Joseph Méray married Marie Ternaux. The couple initially lived in the town of Arras and would get five children. In the 1950s, the family moved to Merlimont, where they settled in an unfinished house. meaning Méray had to work hard to complete it.

The house was located in a dune-like area along the road to Merlimont Plage, a beach resort along the English Channel (between France and England).

Creating an art environment 

Once Méray had completed the work on the house in the early 1960s, he began to brighten up the house and its surroundings with decorations and creations. He made sculptures of animals, which got a place in the garden along the street, but it also happened that on a dune near the house he created the large elephant as depicted in the photo that opens this post.

In the early 1980s, Francis David visited the site and took photographs that would be published in his book Guide de l'art insolite: Nord-Pas-de-Calais, Picardie (1984) and later were added to the website Habitants-paysagistes started in March 2018 by the Lille Art Museum.

The decorated garden, as it stood in the 1980s, probably continued in this size in the following decades, both because of the limited size of the front garden and because of Méray's choice to focus on making small, wooden sculptures intended for indoor use.

what's left of the front garden in 2019
picture from Google Streetview

Joseph Méray passed away on December 27, 2019 at age 97. 

The picture above (2019) gives an idea of what, visible from the street, was left of the front garden: an arrangement of small items, flanked by a small elephant and a small bull.

In 2020 Sonia Terhzaz, a researcher from Paris of French art environments, visited the widow Marie Méray-Ternaux, who told her that the path along the side of the house included several sculptures, but that after creations were stolen or vandalized, the remaining ones were moved to a walled backyard or housed with relatives, as also was done with a part of Méray's wooden sculptures.

What happened to the colossal elephant is not clear.

* Website Habitants-paysagistes (Lille Art Museum)
* Francis David, Guide de l'art insolite: Nord-Pas-de-Calais, Picardie (1984)
* Entry on Facebook by Sonia Terhzaz with a report about meetings she had with Joosep Meray's widow in February 2021 and December 2022

Joseph Méray
752 rue Camille Delacroix, 
62155 Merlimont,  dept Pas-de-Calais, region Hauts-de-France
can be seen from the road 

February 10, 2023

Gessica Mancini and friends, Scena natalizia all'uncinetto / Crochet Christmas scene

picture (December 2022) from the Facebook page of the 
Empolese Valdelsa and Montalbano Tourist Area,
between Florence and Pisa: land of art

In  a previous post attention was paid to a Christmas scene in Italy created by Tiziana Busi, a site located in Pieve di Cento in Italy,  decorated with people and buildings made of crochet. 

Surprised by the use of crochet, further research into this aspect revealed that there are more crocheted Christmas scenes in Italy. The following post describes the crotched scene created by Gessica Mancini from the community of Cerreto Guidi, a municipality in the metropolitan area of Florence. 

Both sites are among the largest creations of Christmas scenes in Italy.

this picture and the next ones from the Facebook page of 
"Le dame dell' uncinetto"

Life and works

Born in 1973, Gessica Mancini learned how to crochet at a very young age. She attended the Istituto statale d'arte, a high school that focuses on the fields of culture, art and crafts. Subsequently she worked at a company doing craft carpentry..

Married in 1997, Gessica got three children. In 2013, when she was just 40 years old, a major event occurred in her life: she was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.

To get away from the thoughts she got because of that diagnosis and to relax a bit, she started crocheting a Christmas scene, because as she said: "When I work for the crib, I don't think about anything and it distracts me from wrong thoughts"

Her choice to make a Christmas scene may also be related to a tradition that from around 2010 was developing in her hometown of Cerreto Guidi: the idea to organize in December as Christmas approaches a competition La via dei Presepi (The Road of the Cribs). 

From early December to early January there would be a public display of around a hundred nativity scenes made by private persons, situated along a route in the inner city along shops, libraries and other public places, with a prize for the most beautiful scene.

In 2014, Gessica took part in this competition and with her newly, still small crocheted nativity scene of 1.5 meters she won the first prize.

When making her Christmas crib, she was assisted by some crocheters from the area, this via a call on Facebook. 

The first prize encouraged her and the other women involved to continue their creative project and so today (2023) the nativity scene has grown considerably. With a length of 30 m it is one of the largest in Italy

The Christmas scene shows characters and buildings from the community of Cerreto Guidi, as well as scenes of gardens and fields in the rural area around the city.

A striking item is the replica of the 16th century hunting lodge of the Medici family, depicted above and below, with an impressive staircase designed by he 16th century architect Bernardo Buontalenti. 

This staircase is composed of 7,000 crocheted stones of 4 cm each, so beautifully made that they look like real stones.

In addition to this famous building, there are replicas of all kinds of historic and other buildings, but also replicas of shops. markets and other public places from the village of Cerreto Guidi, all made with attention to the smallest details and everything rigorously crocheted.

The scenes ar often full of people and one can also meet well-known characters of the community, such as the local priest or the butcher. The scenes of the countryside in the area show vegetable and flower gardens, with fruits and flowers depicted in detail.

A group of some fifty crochet ladies.

The small group of people who had assisted Gessica Mancini in the very beginning, grew over the years. It became an association of more than 50 women, of all ages and living in all kinds of places in Italy. 

In consultation with Gessica Mancini they make entire scenes or parts of scenes, such as walls, bricks, parts of the street or certain costumes, which are often sent by parcel post when the contributing lady lives further away.

The association, referred to in Italian as LE DAME DELL'UNCINETT0 (The ladies of crochet) has its own page on Facebook.

A nationwide inventory of Christmas nativity scenes

Italy has a centuries-old tradition of nativity scenes, which began with Saint Francis of Assisi, who created the first nativity scene in history in 1223 in a cave just outside the old hill town of Greccio in the region of Lazio.

The county has a large number of cities and villages where nativity scenes are installed in public spaces or in churches and other meeting places.

There is now a National Association of Cities of Cribs, chaired by the mayor of Cerreto Guidi. which, at the end of October 2022, together with the Ministry of Culture started mapping cribs in Italy. In addition to data on number and location, the working group, coordinated by the Central Institute for Intangible Heritage of the Ministry of Culture, also investigates immaterial aspects, such as the history of the creation, the skills, knowledge and motivation of the makers and the involvement of local residents. 

Wouldn't it be a good idea to start this context in some way a project focused on an investigation of the artistic aspects of Christmas cribs in Italy ?

Facebook-account Le Dame dell'uncinetto, with information about opening days/hours
Article in travel blog Amiche in Wanderlust, with a variety of pictures
Article (November 2021) in newspaper
* Article by Margherita Cecchin in newspaper la Repubblica (December 2022)


* Video on Facebook by Italia on the road with an overview of a large part of the Christmas scene

* Video (2018) on the Facebook page of Le Dame dell' uncinetto

Gessica Mancini 
Scena natalizia
Via Santi Saccenti 53
Cerreto Guidi, area of metropolitan Florence, regio Tuscany, Italy 
visitors welcome (see FB-page for opening days/hours