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Assisi Floral Passione, Spanning the Ages

Date: June 14, 2012 - categories: , , , - 3 Comments

Gina gathers flowers for the Infiorate

Passione takes hold of one early in Italy: passione for good food, for soccer, for the frescoes in your town church, for music, for one’s village festival – and even for flowers. Flowers of all colors, picked in the fields, on thorny bushes, in your grandmother’s garden, way up in the mountains off a twisty, dusty dirt road. Young children pick after a hot sweaty hike with a grandmother, teens zip along country roads on their motorbikes in search of specific flowers, specific colors and elderly Gina picks them as she scrambles like a goat up a rocky mountain path with walking stick in hand and cloth bag on her back. Everyone brings the flowers back into Assisi and then gather at night in the old medieval cellars to de-petal the blooms, grinding some, shredding others, drying or chilling as needed to enhance color, preserve the perfume.

Floral rose windows

The preparation of the Infiorate - flower-petal carpets – for the Feast of Corpus Christi (60 days after Easter) spans the ages, unites the generations.

Covering the cobblestone piazzas and alleyways of many an Umbrian town on Corpus Cristi, the floral carpet majesty is a welcome to Christ: the Host will be carried in a monstrance by a parish priest or bishop across the floral tapestries in late afternoon in Assisi, as villagers follow the priest in a solemn procession in song and prayer.

Spello’s Infiorate trace an astounding kaleidoscopic trail all over the town, drawing thousands of visitors from all over Italy. Assisi’s floral carpets stretch out in just a few hidden backstreets of the town: most visitors miss the glory completely.

Back from the Spello Infiorate wonders in late afternoon this year, I wandered in Assisi, watching a group of children creating a floral rose window while other young ones sprayed a bright yellow carpet (with flowers of mountain wild broom) with water to keep the flowers fresh.

A group of young mothers were reminiscing about doing the carpets together as young children while they filled in their design.

Alessandra, art restorer, touches up the Escher floral wonder

I turned the corner to see Alessandra and her group of young friends all working quickly to finish up the carpet she had designed: the procession would soon be coming from the nearby Cathedral of San Rufino.

Alessandra, an art restorer and appassionata of the Dutch engraver, M.C. Escher, had brought his work back to life: in flowers.

Click here to read about Spello’s Infiorate masterpieces
Read about the collaboration of all ages for the Assisi Infiorate
Read more about Gina
Click here to read about Spello’s floral passione
Read about eating flowers in Spello!
Read about la passione in Umbria May festivals
Click here to read more on Italian passione

 

Assisi Floral Passione:

Spello Floral Passione:

3 Comments

  • Renee Hills says:

    Hi Annie,
    Lovely story as usual…for the first time the similarity struck me between the Infiorate and the sand mandalas that the Buddhists make here sometimes. Both so beautiful, take so much care and attention and both so ephemeral. I love the way though that the whole community is involved in collecting and preparing the flowers. I think that is beautiful and reflects some of what is very special about Italian tradition and culture. Looking forward to seeing this one day.
    Love
    Renee

  • Lynn cowhig says:

    Beautiful! Have walked those streets and would love to see them with all the wonderful flower art.

  • Sally says:

    Thanks for the lovely flower pictures, Anne. I hope I can come to Assisi to see the streets covered with the flowers.
    It’s funny that someone made flower pictures of Escher’s fish!

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