The Italian Cultural Foundation at Casa Belvedere in Staten Island, New York, unveiled its annual display of “Il Presepio Della Solidarietà” – The FDNY 911 Solidarity Crèche. The gift of friendship and solidarity is from the Naples, Italy Chamber of Commerce to The New York City Fire Department in honor of the victims of 911 and the brave firefighters, police and EMS workers. It will remain on public display outside Casa Belvedere through the holiday season through January 6, 2019.
In December 2001, the 18th century-style, handcrafted, 120-piece gift arrived from the Naples Chamber of Commerce to the NYC Fire Department. The beautiful display measures 16 feet wide, seven feet tall and five feet deep.
“We are very proud to be the custodians of this extraordinary and symbolic ‘Presepio Della Solidarietà’ which we proudly display every year for the public to enjoy,” stated Gina Biancardi, the founder and president of The Italian Cultural Foundation at Casa Belvedere. “The exhibit is particularly meaningful to Staten Islanders who tragically lost many FDNY and other civil servants on 9/11/01. I know many 9/11 victims’ family members who come every year simply to pay homage to their loved ones as they get very tearful viewing the beautiful display,” she continued.
“What tugs at your heart are the figures of the Three Kings, who, instead of bringing gifts of gold, incense and myrrh, present Baby Jesus with three New York City firefighters’ helmets with the numbers 9, 11 and 01. It’s very symbolic and a sight to see. We encourage the public to visit with family and friends and experience this magical and lovingly crafted display firsthand,” said Marian Rodi, executive director of programs at Casa Belvedere.
This handcrafted work of art was created by master artisans of the Campania Region of Italy and is consistent with techniques that date back to the 17th century. It is comprised of 120 handmade pieces including peasants, noblemen, the Holy Family, animals typical of that time period, angels, a faux mountain, a stable and more. However, it is not just recreating a stable scene of Christ’s Birth; it is unique in how it tells the story of the 9/11/01 tragedy in a heartfelt and meaningful way.
The elaborate and elegant display is right in line with the grand and regal Roebling-Stirn Mansion. The Italianate-style, Neo-Renaissance mansion built in 1908, was renamed “Casa Belvedere” almost a century after it was built. The “house with a beautiful view” boasts spectacular views of the Verrazano Bridge and New York Harbor. The building also maintains its historic significance as a New York City Landmark building listed on the NY State and National Registers of Historic Places.
Guests attending are encouraged to bring along an unwrapped toy or gift for a deserving boy or girl, teen or young adult for the Gift of Love Toy Drive. Casa Belvedere is proud to be one of the supporters and drop off locations. Toys will continue to be collected through the pick-up date of Wednesday, December 19. The Italian Cultural Foundation at Casa Belvedere is located at 79 Howard Avenue in Staten Island, NY. For more information call 718-273-7660 or visit the website www.casa-belvedere.org.