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Elisabetta Gulli Grigioni
The Co-Author of Santi Auguri!holds a degree in literature, but her subject is the human heart. She speaks eloquently about it’scapacity to love, to hate — and to embrace, acting as a manger, if you will, for Christ. And so, heart objects, many featuring the Christ Child, adorn her elegant Ravenna apartment. Come along for a morning visit to the world of this extraordinary philosopher, collector, teacher, and author.
Santi Auguri!


Authors Elisabetta Gulli Grigioni and Vittorio Pranzini with Santi Auguri! and its cover nativity.

The dark blue cover of "Santi Auguri!" (Edizioni Essegi) frames a fold-out nativity from the collection of Vittorio Pranzini. The book's in Italian, but its lovely images—understood by creche enthusiasts everywhere—rekindled my love for paper nativities.

Santi Auguri! Presepi di carta, santini, calendarietti devozionali per augurare le buone feste (secoli XIX e XX. (Edizioni Essegi, hardbound, 144 pages, in Italian.)

"Mangers of paper, saints, devotional calendars, in order to augur the good feast (19th-20th centuries).

Now, take a deep breath.

And say a great big "Thank You" to E. Gulli Grigioni and V. Pranzini for giving us this wonderful resource.

Of course, you'll want to read every word, maybe run out and buy an Italian dictionary, as I did. But you won't really need it. It's amazing how much I manage to actually follow thanks to those professors that drilled me in Latin. (The Greek, I already had.)

But you'll be amazed how quickly you catch on, even if you lack the "amo, amas, amat" experience. See if you can follow this description of the cover manger:

Riproduzione della capanna in stile alpino... La parte destra é decorata con due pini, mentre la sinistra con un arbusto inserito fra grandi massi; in alto, in una specie di campanile, una grande campan, di chiaro significato augurale. Al centro una vasta apprtura che lascia intravedere la scena della Nativitá, sulla parte sinistra la figurina di un pastorello in ginochio...

The cover creche of Santi Auguri! — I've named it Alpine giving all the icicles — is a great example of an inventive publisher using different manger fronts with the same figures. Our Creche Gallery will show you these figures being used with at least three other manger settings. In fact, the same figures are used as well with two other settings in Santi Auguri!

Translation: "Reproduction of the manger in Alpine style... The right side is decorated with two pines, while the left with a shrub between two great rocks; Above there's a bell tower and a bell,clearly an auspicious sign. In the center a large opening allows you to catch a glimpse of the scene of the Nativity, with the small figure of a kneeling shepherd on the left of the opening... "

OK, I won't be tackling Dante anytime soon, but you get the idea. Believe me you can do it ,too. Well, then there's page translation service on the web , I've just discovered and wish I could have done so lot sooner.

But I digress.

You'll love this book, even if you can't understand a word: page after colorful page of beautiful, fold-out paper creches, pop-up creche scenes, folding Christmas cards, and even a creche sheet in full color in "Oriental Style." I suppose a column borrowed from the Temple of Karnak is responsible for the oriental name, but you'll love all the beautifully executed figures — over 25 of them — in soft, vibrant color.

This is the book that started me down the slippery slope of Crechemania madness. I thought, a creche sheet, just like the ones my father gave me at Christmas in Greece..." And the rest, as they is history…

Elisabetta Gulli Grigioni and Vittorio Pranzini, I owe you two big plates of mousaká.

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