Via San Gregorio Armeno is a rather unusual shopping street in Naples. The specialty of most artisans and stores in the street is making and selling nativity scenes, which brings half a million extra tourists to the city in the period just before Christmas.
Via San Gregorio Armeno Naples
Attractions: San Gregorio Armenio Church, San Gennaro all’Olmo Church, bithplace of San Gennaro.
History and description
The Italian word for nativity scene is presepe and in Via San Gregorio Armeno you can buy and admire all kinds of presepi, from the usual Jesus and Mary figures and all the people usually seen in nativity scenes, to caricatures of political leaders and other famous figures.
However, the Neapolitan stalls are especially famous for placing everyday people and utensils among the Biblical figures.
Virtually everything you could put in a nativity scene is for sale in Via San Gregorio Armeno, from the stalls themselves to houses, electrically powered waterfalls and whatnot, (almost) all of it handmade, of course.
For those who feel like crafting themselves after seeing all this beauty, it is also possible to obtain the necessary materials and special tools in some of the stores.
The best time to visit Via San Gregorio Armeno is between September and November, when the shopkeepers already start to prepare for the Christmas season, but the big tourist hordes have not arrived yet.
What to see
The street begins at Piazza San Gaetano, where in Greek and Roman times the city’s central square and Forum were located.
About halfway down is one of Naples’ most famous Baroque churches, the San Gregorio Armeno Church. It was built in the 10th century, on the ruins of the ancient Temple of Cerere.
San Gennaro all’Olmo Church, whose first version dates back to the 4th century.
Opposite this church is the probable birthplace of the town’s patron saint, San Gennaro.