City Spotlight: Le Infiorata di Spello

By Gina Fabbro

© Gina Fabbro

© Gina Fabbro

Spello is a small town nestled in the Umbrian hills in central Italy. While its quaint streets, friendly people, and delicious restaurants are enough of a draw, an annual event takes place that definitely warrants a visit in itself. At its heart, Le Infiorata di Spello has been a part of the celebration of the Catholic feast of Corpus Domini. Locals would originally throw flowers onto the street before a procession of priests and other clergy, but the tradition of decorating the streets with flowers has since evolved into a spectacular display of artistry and dedication.

© Teresa Culter-Broyles

© Teresa Culter-Broyles

Starting at the foot of Spello, the path leading up to the city center is covered in intricate, brilliantly-colored murals, painstakingly created the night before by teams of volunteers. These “tapestries” consist of dried flowers gathered from the wild, with the occasional use of berries, leaves, and sticks. To amass a good amount and variety of flowers, collection usually starts a few months prior to the event, and can go throughout the year.

© Teresa Culter-Broyles

© Teresa Culter-Broyles

Using wood frames or other devices to shape the murals is prohibited, and each piece must reflect religious themes. Design teams either sketch an outline of their picture in chalk or place pieces of paper onto the ground, then cover it with the dried flowers. Throughout the years, the designs have become more and more elaborate, oftentimes achieving a 3D look from the use of perspective and the different textures of flowers.

© Teresa Culter-Broyles

© Teresa Culter-Broyles

The celebration ends with a religious procession, as the bishop and other religious leaders walk up the street and through the carpets of flowers, thus clearing the way for next year’s designs to be imagined and realized.

© Teresa Culter-Broyles

© Teresa Culter-Broyles

The celebration takes places every year on the 9th Sunday after Easter, and is definitely worth seeing. Get there early to fully enjoy the displays, and stay after for lunch in one of the town’s various restaurants. More information  about the association can be found here:

http://infioratespello.it/

A big thank you to Teresa Culter-Broyles for the use of her photos from this year’s event!

 

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