Monday, June 4, 2018

Spello, Italy: L'Infiorata

A view of the Umbrian landscape from Spello.
I've been traveling again, finally, after a long spell. This time I didn't bring my computer along, so I'll be writing most of my posts once I return home, where I will also be able to access photos from my digital camera. It's a laborious process trying to create posts on my tablet, so most of them will come later. And photos taken on my phone will have to suffice.

I traveled with my son for 16 days: ten were spent in Paris, and six in Italy. Now Jesse has returned to the States, and I have ten days to explore some new sights on my own in Italy. I came to Spello for the annual celebration of the feast of Corpus Christi, L'infiorata, which takes place on the 9th Sunday after Easter.

Traveling with Jesse was a departure from my usual mode of going it alone. We were both eager to explore Paris in more detail than previous visits, and I had the chance to share Italy with him for the first time. The pace of traveling with him was a challenge for me, as we walked 8-10 hours (sometimes more!) almost every day, and we were out late many nights, which is not my usual travel habit. But we crammed in a lot of rich experiences during our time together. Staying in Spello will give me a chance to process the previous weeks, relax, recover, and write.

The first mention of the Infiorata was recorded in 1831, and paintings of the celebration started appearing in the early 1900's. Designs made with flower petals, leaves and herbs cover the village streets, creating a carpet of beauty along the winding, sometimes steep passages.

A design is laid down on the street, beneath a protective structure.
It was exciting to watch the Spellani at work on their flower creations. Groups of children and adults pulled or cut fresh flowers, separating the colors to fit the design. About 15 million flowers of nearly 65 different species are collected. Petals from different flowers are used either fresh or dried to obtain a wider palette.

More than 2,000 people of all ages are involved. During the "Night of Flowers", they might work 14 hours to complete the carpets.

Work on the designs began in the evening, and continued through the night on many of the more elaborate ones.

At sunrise, more than 60 floral creations ranging from 15 to 70 square meters cover the streets of the historical center of Spello. Soon after, a religious procession passes on the flower carpet, reminding the observers of the ephemeral beauty of the Infiorata.

The finished design.
On Sunday morning, crowds of tourists, mostly Italians, started arriving about 8.a.m. I had been warned to get out early, so I went out at 5:30 a.m., only to find that quite a few of the larger pieces were still being worked on. I went back out at 8:30, found the streets crowded and nearly all of the work complete. The designs are judged according to a variety of criteria, including age group, creativity and elaboration. A religious theme is always present.

The course of the Infiorata started at the bottom of the village, then wound around the steep streets to the highest point, and back down to a medium point. Though I walked most of the course, I found even more designs later in the day that I had missed earlier. My photos don't do justice to the designs, as it was difficult to get the right angle to capture the long or wide creations.

Misting the flower petals to keep them fresh.
By the afternoon, the carpets of flowers were drying out, and the crowds started to diminsh. By evening, street cleaning machines were whisking away all traces of the beauty and creativity that was evident only a few hours previously. I feel privileged to have had ths chance to witness Spello's Infiorata: it was well worth the journey to get here.

1 comment:

dawnmarie said...

These are absolutely gorgeous creations. Thanks for sharing them!