Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and a Zampogna Player


Nativity scenes (presepe or presepio) in Sicily and Southern Italy don’t just illustrate the Holy Family, they also show the folk traditions of the people in the region. For example, at the presepe in Sant’Elia that Experience Sicily’s Filippo Buttitta photographed last week, the life-sized figures include this zampogna, or bagpipe player.

Zampogne (plural for zamponga) are found throughout Italy. Sicily has a strong tradition of exploiting the droning sounds of zampogne—created from air vibrating through either a single or double reed—for its folk music, specifically from mountainous regions where sheep and goat herding are prevalent. The air bags of zampogne are made from the hides of sheep or goats. For more about zampogne, see my earlier post at

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