The Lake Maggiore has gained something of a reputation for unusual nativity scenes. Several metal, wood and paper creations compete every year in the ‘Nativity Scenes in the Garden City’ competition.
However, there is one display that really stands out from the rest, and that’s Laveno Mombello’s underwater nativity.
This particular tradition first began in 1979 when a local group called ‘Friends of the Nativity Scene’ submerged three statues in front of a small audience. Now, every year, organisers place 42 statues of near lifesize height on steel platforms 2-3 metres below the surface of Lake Maggiore, near the Engel & Völkers shop. Carved by Maestro Tancredi da Brendale, the figures are made of white Vincenza stone and represent Joseph, Mary, Jesus, the Magi and a host of other nativity characters.
The scene really comes alive at night when it is illuminated by underwater lights and the statues appear to float in the water. Usually, on Christmas Eve, a married couple from the local town will bring the model of Baby Jesus from the church to the lakefront, where it is blessed by a priest and then submerged with the rest of the nativity. The unique scene will remain on display until Epiphany in early January.
This is an occasion to see the only underwater nativity scenes worldwide or at least under a lake. Since 2004 at the center of the lake a Christmas tree is lighted up to gather more attention from the lake visitors.