Floral Passione Takes Over Spello
“Bello Spello, vero?”, an elderly woman asks me as she polishes her brass doorknob to a gleam. Above her head, fiery red geraniums and hot pink petunias overflow in chromatic profusion from terracotta flower pots on the stone wall of her house. I thought she might win the “Finestre,Balconi e Vie Fioriti” (“Windows, balconies and alleyways”) contest – until I saw Attilio’s courtyard. Each day, stonemason, Attilio, returns hot and sweaty from work and after a quick shower, spends hours in his courtyard tending the 120 flower pots hanging on the pink limestone wall of his courtyard. On a recent Spello stroll, I asked him “Why all the hours after a hard day’s work?” “Passione”, he replied with a shrug and a smile as he pointed to his handmade sign: “Respect the flowers and do not touch with your hands. I am very jealous (note: he means “hyper-protective”!) of them – and they are delicate”
Spello’s floral passione comes to culmination each year with the maginficent flower petal tapestries of the Infiorate for Corpus Domini (60 days after Easter), but not only: in the weeks preceding, gelaterie turn out creamy floral delights – gelato alle rose, alla lavanada – restaurants feature flower-accented menus and windowboxes, wrought iron balconies and Spello’s winding medieval alleyways erupt in floral profusion: the contest is on.
The winner of each category – window, balcony, alleyway – is chosen on the Sunday prior to the Infiorate with judgement based on the following criteria: combination of colors, healthy aspect of the flowers throughout the duration of the competition (a few weeks), originality of composition, incorporation of the beauty of typical architectural elements of medieval Spello and the harmonious inclusion of the urban context and surrounding landscape.
Although he has won twice in the past, Attilio did not win this year, I hear. I’m heading to Spello tomorrow to view the three floral prize-winners – and prepared to be SPELLbound.