Infiorata – Spello 2023

Sunday we finally managed to go to the Infiorata in Spello, a small hill town not far from Assisi. A religious ceremony – Corpus Domini – which is celebrated the ninth Sunday after Easter each year by many towns with flower carpets on the streets. But Spello goes all out for this religious holiday. It draws thousands of visitors each year, to see the flower carpets. All up and down the streets are amazing, religious themed, creations made out of mostly flower petals, but also other organic and plant material.

About one quarter of the population of 8,000 volunteers in some way to help make this event happen. It is a huge undertaking because there are busload after busload of people coming. And parking lots in fields for the thousands of cars. All of this must be managed and coordinated. Then there is the art itself. The people in the town spend weeks plucking petals from flowers and gathering wild flowers for the creations. It works essentially like the old paint by number paintings. The designers create the designs. I am sure this is another whole layer of work unseen by most which must take months to finalize for each creation. They use chalk to draw the designs on the pavement under tents erected to protect the workers and the flower petals from the elements. The workers work all night making the creations. All the bars and restaurants stay open all night. They are supposed to be finished by 8am but some were still working when we got there at 8:30.

This is an example of the tents that cover these while they are created. As you can see the framework is just being dismantled and the workers are still hard at it after an all-nighter.

I tried to get a picture of the design which was posted next to each creation so you can see what it would look like had I gotten overhead. Luther says next year we should have a drone! This is the design of the one above.

Some of the raw materials used in the creations. I wonder how many flowers they go through!

This board had the petals and the corresponding numbers. And they even included the name of the flower they came from. As I said, paint by the numbers!

I think there are 60-70 of these carpets and I did take a lot of pictures. I hope you enjoy them. There will be less to read…but more to see! I will caption them where needed.

The under 14 year olds had a few entries. I should mention that these are all judged and prizes (plaques) are awarded in different categories.

I like the freeform spray of flowers in the yellow circle.
Close up of whole flowers being used in the above.
Design poster. Titled Vincent’s Love. The woman had striking eyes. Note the tic tac toe game with hearts – love wins out!
Entire creation
Detail of Vincent’s love.
Elephants, goats, birds.
Peace on earth. Goodwill towards men.

This next design, followed by the creation was my favorite. Entitled The Choice. I liked it for the design and especially the creative use of artichokes in the dragon detail.

Artichoke leaves as dragon scales.
Loved this one as well. The colors!
Some were simple
Liked the perspective on this one.
Chess board.
Another of my favorites. The materials, the monotone greens.
Follow the yellow brick road
Labyrinth- life of Jesus. Design.

The next four are another example of the use of different plant materials in the designs.

Elephant out of seed husks and sage leaves.
More husks and this time bay leaves. It smelled lovely.
Rosemary and capers. Capers grow wild all over Umbria.
Wild garlic flowers. Also grows everywhere.

We finally made it to the top!

The beautify that saves the world. Interesting perspective on the crucifix.

And now for a few pictures from around town. They not only do awards for the carpets they also judge the flowers that residents grow and decorate their windows, doors, balconies.

Loved her poppy dress.

The crowd. The streets of Spello are narrow. Add the carpets that you can’t walk on, and the 100,000 or so visitors and you’ve got…well…a mob scene. 😳 And it was very warm, nearly hot.

There was a holy Mass at 10am and then the procession began. This is where I wanted to cry. They walk right on and over the creations. Then the faithful who are following the holy procession do too. The beautiful carpets of flowers that took thousands and thousands of hours of work only live for a few hours. Then they are gone. But I remembered, it is not about the flowers or the art. It is about Corpus Domeni.

As you can see we had a birds eye view of the procession. Thanks to our friends Steve and Roselyne who invited us to their apartment to recover. They own this apartment right on the Main Street with a nice balcony so we got a good view.

I hope you enjoyed this photo essay of one of the iconic fests in Umbria.

12 thoughts on “Infiorata – Spello 2023

  1. Carlo

    Yes, we saw all the entries, twice in some cases, as we walked back down from the very top of the town to the lower entrance near where we parked. Mary says the displays were just as intricate as those in you photos and she had photos to corroborate her point so, it must be my memory. No surprise there!

  2. Audrey

    This is amazing. When we were in Sicily back in 2019, there was a town that did this. We missed it by a week I believe. Now I feel like I got to see it, thru your eyes. thank you

  3. Catherine Rowley

    What a spectacular event; with your fab fotos! Wonderful to see; hard to believe really; your fotos prove it to be true! A great treat to view; thanks for sharing!

  4. Carlo

    So glad to hear you finally made it there. The finest of the designs look more intricate than the best we saw so, maybe it was worth the wait!

  5. jane Okeeffe

    The Spello flower festival is so special. about 10th ears ago we went the evening befor it was fininished and so enjoyed the viewing of the work that goes in to it. then we went back very early in the morning of the next day before all the crowds arrived, Spello is a wonderful place an worth a visit at any time. thanks for your lovely 0photos and a great report

  6. James Lupori

    Virginia and I have participated in 2 infiarate in Spello and I think 4 in Cannara (a smaller event). We were invited this year, but I’ve been having some problems with my right hand which made it impossible for me to help. I’m so glad you finally got to see this incredible festival. Even 9 years ago there were far fewer visitors. As you know, it’s packed with people. Thanks for sharing the great pics!!!

  7. Matthew Daub

    Another terrific post, Nancy. Thanks so much for taking the time to share it with us!

  8. Doug

    And an update: “La Scelta” came in second, the crucifixion scene with the extreme perspective came in first.

  9. Doug

    I didn’t notice there was a noose in “La Scelta” until I saw your picture of the design. Scary! But, I too, hope it won. According to one report I read, 1,500,000 flowers are used by the participants. Not sure if that counts carciofi. Now I do want to go at night, especially if you can sip and stroll.

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