Spello – che bello! – is becoming world famous for its magnificent flower petal tapestries – Infiorate – carpeting medieval alleyways and piazzas for Corpus Cristi. Prior to the wonders, the Spellani compete in a contest of flowering balconies, windowboxes and alleyways, try out the rose and lavender flavors featured in the main piazza gelateria – and even eat flowers.
Or some do: the cena floreale (“floral dinner”) – “by invitation only” – is enjoyed by civic and regional authorities and the sponsors who in some way contribute to Spello’s many Infiorate events. As Giorgio, Giuseppe, aspiring young chef, Alessandro, and busy crew sweated in a steamy hot kitchen preparing the antipastos of chickpeas and codfish with calendula, radicchio/anchovy pate’ decorated with violets and a bell pepper patè topped off with nasturtiam, I had to of course ask, “Perche’?” I expected the answer: “solo passione”, said Stefania with a smile. “Siamo pazzi appassionati” (” we are appassioned crazies”), grinned Giuseppe.
[lcaption]Three plates of tri-colored pasta[/lcaption]
A “floral” frittata with roses and pansies and goat’s cheese balls rolled in crushed calendula, geranium, wisteria and bachelor button petals wowed the guests. The stunning red/white/green pasta course celebrated the 150th anniversary of the Unification of Italy: red tagliatelle made of tomatoes with tomato sauce on top and decorated with roses, a white pasta with an almond pesto decorated with yarrow, and a green chittarine pasta made with spinach, various greens and served with basil pesto. On to the pork roast with fennel seeds and fennel flowers accompanied by a mixed salad highlighted with a variety of colorful edible flowers. Close to midnight, the floral feast ended with exquisite flavors for the palate and elegance for the eye: lavender panna cotta and sorbetto di limone with lavender sprigs in it.
As I left the medieval stone-vaulted kitchen, a sweaty, exhausted – and fully satisfied – culinary “team” took off aprons and turned out the lights. Across the street, the perfume of jasmine from a flowering courtyard filled the air.
Click here to read about Spello’s extraordinary flower-petal tapestries, the Infiorate
Click here to read about Spello’s floral passione
Click here to read about Spello’s celebration of their olive oil
Read about la passione in Umbria May festivals
Read about floral passione in Assisi
Read more on manifestations of Italian passione
Click here to read about – and see!- the splendid restoration of Spello’s medieval tower