This is a festival in Italy which marks the tradition of making carpets out of flowers. Infiorata Festival is a collection of celebrations that are held in the blossoming spring months of May and June. They are worth a sight and are recommended to anyone visiting those regions during this time around. In the late-early spring there are many opportunities from North to South so that you don’t end up missing any of the festivals. The word ‘infiorata’ literally means decorated from flowers. This is why the pictures and carpets are exclusively made up of vibrant hues of petals, earth and sometimes even beans and stalks. There are three major infiorata festivals in particular: Noto in Sicily, Spello in Umbria and Genzano in Lazio. Individual artists display their talent on the side streets. Guests and passersby are then attracted to this ‘flower street gallery’ show.
The history of the Infiorata Flower Tradition
The Infiorata Festival flower tradition as we know it today, dates back to the seventeenth century. Presumably, the first flower carpets were made on the 29th of June 1625 in the Vatican Basilica. Benedetto Drei, head-florist at the Vatican, and his son Peter were the creators.
The duo used flower petals like mosaic’s tesserae to decorate the basilica. It was done on the day of Saints Peter and Paul’s feast, the patron saints of Rome. The artists now use flower petals of varying colors to create both simple and elaborate designs on streets leading upto the churches and abbeys. After working on the actual designs months before the festival, the next task is to sketch the shapes with chalks on the streets and mark each line with coffee grounds or soil. These designs are then filled with flower petals just like an artist uses a palette of colors to complement his intended sketch.
Sometimes even entire flowers and greeneries are utilized to create a three-dimensional impression. Later on the architect Gian Lorenzo Bernini, spread this art in the area around Rome, the Castelli Romani. This was mainly to utilize it for the fancy festivals he organized. Nevertheless in Rome this custom soon died down but it survived in Castelli Romani by the locals. In 1778, this tradition became linked to the Christian celebration of Corpus Domini. This was after a carpet of large, brightly coloured flowers was laid down in the center of the street in Genzano for its entire length.
The different types of Infiorata Festivals
In the present day many types of these flower festivals are hold across Italy and also the rest of the world. Such as the festivals in Pienza in Tuscany, Orvieto in Umbria, Potenzoni di Briatico in Calabria, Brugnato in Liguria, The Abbey of Chiaravalle della Colomba in Fidenza, Emilia Romagna. The three main infiorata festivals in Italy are:
This dates back to 1778 and is hold every June on the Sunday of Corpus Domini. This is the tradition of making flower carpets along the route of the Corpus Christi procession This covers a total area of 2000 square meters and comprises 15 flower panels. 500,000 flowers, blooms and seeds are use. June is aptly the most beautiful season in Genzano di Romano, which is a small town that is 29 kilometers from Rome. In 2014, the infiorata was intend to be hold on the 22nd and 23rd of June.
During this festival the whole Italo Belardi street was to be cover with flower carpets. In the past there were carpets dedicate to women, ecology, the late Pope John Paul II, Italian history, etc. In the 1990’s, several Italian fashion designers, for example Gianni Versace and Laura Biagiotti, participated in the festival. This celebration comes to an exuberant end known as spallamento. Children run down through the staircase from the church of Santa Maria to undo the flower panels. Over the years Genzano’s flower festival has transformed into an international event of art and culture, attracting tourists from all around the world.
One of the most await Italian festivals is in Noto hold on the 16th and 18th of May. This is a beautiful town in southeast Sicily. Over the three festival days, the city is quite literally covere in flower petals for the “Infiorata di Noto”. This celebration of the coming of spring has been observe since 1980.
It is a great opportunity for artists to showcase their talents using just the raw earth materials as their paraphernalia. The whole town takes part in the design of these unbelievable creations that have a maximum life span of 48 hours. As they are prepare between a Friday and Saturday and are showcase on Sunday. The main viewing area is in the Via Nicolaci, where people can look down to enjoy the flower images. Every third Sunday of May even the local prisoners have a spot reserved for their own piece of flower petal art.
This Infiorata festival began in the 1930’s on the ninth Sunday after Easter. It takes place every year in the small Umbrian town on the day of the Corpus Domini feast. A night prior to this people work very hard to create pictures of flowers along the narrow streets. This covers the historical center for passage of the Blessed Sacrament carried in procession by the bishop on Sunday morning. Many design techniques evolved over time and what once was simple art went onto become more complicated patterns. The artists create the flower carpets by species collected right from the wild. Even though berries, leaves and branches can be use, it is prefer that flowers are use.
These petals can either be fresh or dried up. The gathering of these materials starts way before their actual use. The festival requires a year-long effort to take full advantage of the variety of seasonal floral species the Umbria’s countryside offers. In Spello this tradition has advanced from first throwing flowers, then to placing them in art forms on the pavement. It is document in the Municipal archives for the first time in 1831.