You have to be up early to beat the crowds on the feast of Corpus Christi. The population of the small town of Spello is around 8,000, but on this day it swells to around 80,000. Droves of people arrive in coaches and cars or on foot to see the spectacular displays of pictures created with flowers. Spello’s biggest festival, the Infiorata, is underway.
Around 2 kilometres of floral carpets cover Spello’s winding streets, alleyways and squares. Those in the tiny alleys are long and narrow….
They follow the contours of the streets….
This one was clearly inspired by Matisse….
In the squares, the pictures were spread over a larger area….
It is hard to believe that these detailed flower carpets are created using only leaves, flower petals, herbs and seeds. But they are; last year we were fortunate enough to be involved with the production of one of these masterpieces, picking flowers out in the fields and on the mountainside.
When you look closely you can see how the layers of colour are built up.
Here ballet dancers pirouette across the street, under a scroll of musical notes….
Saint Francis of Assisi was a popular subject this year; Assisi is just a few miles away and, in addition, the Pope adopted the name of Francis in remembrance of this Saint who was dedicated to the poor. See how Saint Francis’ beard has been created, texture added with tiny twigs….
Most of the pictures have a religious theme. One of my favourites showed the Archangel Michael smiting the devil. Look at the devil’s face – the detail is incredible.
Pictures are created by teams of people, largely from Spello. For weeks before the event, they pick flowers, grind dried petals and collect seeds and herbs. In the final hours, fresh flower petals are gathered. The designs are kept secret until the last possible moment as there is a competitive element. There are several different categories, including one for the under 14 age group. Just look at what they produced….
Designs are either drawn in chalk on the road surface or sketched on a paper sheet which is then stuck to the ground. Other than that, no glue is allowed – all of the flowers and seeds are placed directly onto the surface. The way in which faces are portrayed is particularly fascinating. See how this eye seems to look straight at you….
This entwined couple had eyes only for each other….
A colourful tree had three dimensional leaves and butterflies….
In this depiction of the Garden of Gethsemane, the leaves of the olive tree were placed right side up and then inverted to look like leaves rippling in the breeze….
The work on the pictures starts on Saturday afternoon. People work all night under arc lamps swung across the streets. By 8 o’clock the following morning, everything is completed. Crowds had already started to arrive as the final touches were added.
A limited colour palette did not impede the finished design…
This peacock was pleased as punch with his colourful feathers….
….whilst these sleeping beauties were oblivious to the noise of the crowds!
There were three-dimensional towers….
….and towers bathed in moonlight….
Tiny people gathered under arches….
Even the local digger was decorated for the celebrations!
At around 11 o’clock on Sunday morning there was a procession through the streets.
By Sunday evening, all of the flowers have been washed from the streets. The transient nature of the wonderful floral creations only adds to their interest. Spello’s Infiorata is a truly unique experience.
For more details of the preparations for the festival and photos of last year’s creations, click on the link below.