Friday 4 June 2010

The infiorata in Spello

Spello in Umbria will hold its infiorata from 5th to 6th June this year, covering all its streets with elaborate pictures created from flower petals. This is a competitive infiorata so the townsfolks work in teams and prizes are awarded in several categories. At midday on Sunday 6th June a bell will ring in Spello and this is the signal for the Bishop to begin his procession through the town.

The Infiorata of Spello is an historic religious evocation, taking place between May and June, in the day of the Corpus Domini. In ancient times the streets of the city were adorned with flowers for the passing of the procession, then from year to year people begun to make the flower adorning more and more artistic. From simply throwing flower petals on the street they started creating drawings and nowadays the infiorata have reached a very high artistic level. The people of Spello work all the year long for the preparation of their infiorata (flower adorning) gathering flowers and leafs in any season. Most of the work is done in spring indeed in the period preceding the event, groups of people are committed in flower gathering on mount Subasio. The preparation of the drawing and the flower gathering takes several days. Some flowers are used fresh, while others are dried to obtain different chromatic scales. Usually the drawings have a religious subject and are made by nationally renowned artists. The infiorate are created on the street.

The infiorata of Spello starts the Saturday preceding the religious celebration, and goes on all the night until 8 o’clock in the morning. During this night the little streets of the historical centre of Spello are animated by thousands of people who want to se the way drawings are made. The entire town of Spello gets involved in The infiorata from the youngest to the elderly, and people divide into groups or teams to work together to try and create a winning design. Children as young as 6 join in by helping to collect the flowers, which are then taken apart and sorted in color shades by older members of the team. Once work has been completed and the awnings come down the streets of Spello fill with people admiring the colourful spectacle. On Sunday morning the jury judges and awards the best infiorata, just before the procession passes over them. This event is considered the most famous of Italy in its kind.

Tips for Attending Spello's infiorata - I was uncertain exactly what time viewing would be allowed and arrived in Spello at 8am last year. The streets at that time were packed and parking difficult. I would certainly try to be in Spello by 7am on the Sunday, or even earlier and I believe the large canopies would still be up not allowing much of a view of the larger designs as they were just removing them when I arrived. Be prepared for heavy crowds along the narrow streets and dress comfortably. I spotted a number of tourists wearing very uncomfortable looking high heeled sandals having great difficulty handling the uneven cobblestone streets. The crowded atmosphere would be a pickpocket's dream environment, so keep valuables in either a fanny pack worn in front, in a purse worn across your chest in front, or in some other safe fashion. As well, the crowds were so thick in some areas that I really could not imagine pushing a stroller through Spello with babys or young children.

If you are in Umbria on the Sunday after Corpus Domini do make an effort to travel to Spello for this event as it really is worth seeing. If I were you I would make a point to attend this event if possible.

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