craft shop in naples

A Craft Shop in Naples



solely dedicate umpteen
scene mask (2) stunt (2)
boost pack (2) hardly believe
pre- nephew shepherd
thick edge (2) pull out all the stops
crowd fan (2) publicity stunt
cope wonder boom (2)
rush intense order (3)
calm epitome publicity
crib identical supposed to
trim threaten model (3)
lot (3) boring mount (2)
bless spirit (3) work their way
carol artisan conveyor belt
power Advent in person
if only keep up around the clock
pour pour in full steam ahead
stage flag (3) terracotta
chef load (2) proportion
tattoo remedy symbolic
chief figurine Neapolitan
refer provide based on
wood run up tradition
hemp flexible skeleton (2)
craft fine art outstretched
alley celebrity if you like
dome oriental around the corner
nun senora onion dome
cage pop out workshop
fuse pop (2) Hallelujah
saint Nativity stand (3)
angel district guardian angel
push patience backdrop
ruin wild (2) imagination
ruins journey over the top
wing delivery off you go
candle wealthy let me down


Video: A Craft Shop in Naples



This famous street in Naples is dedicated solely to selling Christmas Nativity scenes. Crowds come to the Via San Gregoria Armeno during Advent.

Marco Ferrigno is the unofficial King of the Nativity scene makers. Fans of his works come from all over Italy to get a photo with him.

His mama, Ana, also known as Puperta, Little Doll, can hardly believe she’s spent fifty years packing up the Three Wise Men and other figurines.

Meanwhile Marco’s nephew Davide wonders how he’s going to paint two dozen masks for the Pulcinella figurines by this evening.

But his other uncle says you have to pull out all the stops for the customers.

Marco Ferrigno: “This is Pulcinella, the symbol of Naples.”

Marco even has the edge on publicity stunts. We’re going to spend a few days with him and his family.

We want to see how they cope with the pre-Christmas stress on Via San Gregoria Armeno.

The orders are coming thick and fast. The Christmas rush is intense, but Marco is the epitome of calm.

Marco is working on an order: fifteen lots of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. They are all supposed to be identical.

Cousin Luca is giving the cribs a quick trim. It’s not exactly a fine art.

Marco Ferrigno, Craftsman: “Fifteen of each. All the same.”

But just when things threaten to get boring, Viajo and Enrico are there to boost flagging spirits.

In the last eighteen days before Christmas, they work their way though San Gregoria Armeno giving a blessing to the artisans.

But Christmas carols and conveyor belt cribs are yesterday’s news for many. They’re more interested in star-power: The Royals, Berlusconi and Sofia Loren — she once visited Marco in person.

So did Pavarotti. Opera singers, TV and football stars are a booming business, if only his family could keep up.

Ana Ferrigno: “I work around the clock. I cook, a mama, I was a wife — I do it all. Anything else?

Full steam ahead and the money is pouring in.

Three days before Christmas, the number of orders are mounting, including ones from customers who want themselves modeled in terracotta.

The latest project: Italian celebrity chef Rubio.

Marco’s cousin Luca also needs to pull out all the stops. The man with tattoos also has his remedy for coping with stress: Hip Hop.

His job is to make all the tiny glass eyes in Marco’s figurines.

Luca: “I’ve done nothing but glass eyes for fourteen years. I like it: I have eyes everywhere. Eyes are symbolic of everything I do. I’ve got loads. Eyes here, eyes there. Eyes everywhere!”

The figurines used in the Neapolitan Nativity scenes are called Pastori. The word actually means shepherd, but in Naples it refers to any figurine.

It’s a centuries old craft that also provides a good story for photo journalists in the run up to Christmas. Young artists like Jugi look good in the papers. She’s learning the traditional craft from Marco.

Marco Ferrigno: “The head is made of terracotta with glass eyes, which Luca makes. The hands and feet are made of wood. The body has a flexible iron skeleton, covered with hemp.

The proportions are based on Leonardo da Vinci’s famous drawing. So you have the same distance between the outstretched arms and between the head and feet: forty centimeters each way.”

So Marco is the great Pastori artist, the theater director if you like. But where is his stage?

Pulcinella says we can find a stage builder just around the corner. The first alley on the left, by the Oriental Nativity scene with its onion domes and candles. Then right back to the loneliest corner of the old convent, San Antonia de Librare.

Artisan Mario says nuns gave him this little cage as a workshop. No one knows whether that’s actually true.

With just three days to go until Christmas, he’s not having a good time: The main fuse keeps popping out. With the patience of a saint, he goes over and pushes it back in, umpteen times a day.

His guardian angels have never let him down yet.

His business still stands. Mario says making Nativity scenes is a service to God.

Mario: “Hallelujah! Everything is okay again. The backdrop that he creates for Nativity scenes look pretty wild. Mario says that because before Christ came, the whole world was in spiritual ruins. It seems a little over the top.

But without the Precipe, as locals call the Nativity scenes, Naples wouldn’t be Naples, and Mario wouldn’t be Mario.

Mario: “It’s very deep. It’s as if I were communicating directly with a Nativity scene. It’s a real journey of the imagination.”

Marco has no time for imaginary journeys or communicating with his figurines. His nephew Davide needs to make a delivery.

Marco: “So you collect €200. Off you go.”

Davide: “That’s it?”
Customer: “No, that’s not it. The one I ordered had different wings.”
Davide: “No, that’s the right one.”
Customer: “That does look quite beautiful, doesn’t it? But it could have a bit more color.”
Davide: “That’s not my job, senora. I didn’t even know it was an angel.”

Good paying customers in Placidipo, the wealthy district of Naples can sometimes be difficult.

Mario, our other Nativity scene maker, is also earning a few euros here before Christmas.

He’s come to teach the children how to build a Nativity scene.


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1. Via San Gregoria Armeno is lined with shops that sell all kinds of clothes, food, arts, crafts and souvenirs. True or false?

2. Is Marco Ferrigno a merchant in this alley? Are he and the alley well known? Are they famous?

3. This is a family business. It’s a family-run enterprise. Is this correct or incorrect? Are the family members generalists or do they specialize in different tasks? Give examples of the different roles and tasks of different family members.

4. Is it extremely busy in their shop? Is everyone very busy? Is business very good for Marco? Is it the same throughout the year or does it vary?

5. There are only buyers and sellers in Via San Gregoria Armeno. Only shoppers come to Via San Gregoria Armeno. Is this right or wrong? Why do they come there?

6. Nowadays, does Marco and his family only make Nativity figurines? Are people only interested in Nativity figurines?

7. What are their works made of?

8. Does Marco make Nativity scenes as well as figurines?

9. Are his customers always satisfied and appreciative of their works?


A. Are there crafts industries or arts and crafts shops in your city? What do they produce? Are certain cities or regions renowned for certain crafts?

B. I personally know some people who make crafts. Yes or no?

C. My friends and I would like to do artwork or make crafts and sell them.

D. What will happen in the future?

E. There should be more traditional arts and crafts, instead of only mass produced modern items. More people should make and buy traditional, handmade arts and crafts instead of only industrially produced goods. What do you think?

F. What are some possible types of artwork or handicrafts that could become popular?

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