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  • Spello's Infiorate

Behind the (Floral) Scenes in Spello

Date: June 13, 2015 - categories: , , , - 4 Comments

On the feast of Corpus Domini (60 days after Easter), kaleidoscopic floral tapestries carpet the piazzas of Spello (this year, seventy masterpieces) and not only: narrow floral masterpieces run along the winding medieval alleyways like elegant table runners, flowered ones (but these flowers are real).

How to describe the Infiorate?  Astounding, magnificent, splendid, unforgettable, stupendous?  All, inadequate

How to describe the Infiorate? Astounding, magnificent, splendid, unforgettable, stupendous? All, inadequate

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….and not just flowers in the masterpieces: apples figure in the Garden of Eden temptation scene

….and not just flowers in the masterpieces: apples figure in the Garden of Eden temptation scene

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One floral quadro (“picture”)  centers on a Pope Francis quote on personal involvement as root of all communication

One floral quadro (“picture”) centers on a Pope Francis quote on personal involvement as root of all communication

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Detail of the floral masterpiece denouncing violence against women

Detail of the floral masterpiece denouncing violence against women

Some of the floral tapestries are like stunning table runners, carpeting narrow alleyways…

Some of the floral tapestries are like stunning table runners, carpeting narrow alleyways…

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On the morning of the Infiorate festival, you’ll want to start your Spello “floral explorations” early – before the procession leaves the Santa Maria Maggiore church about 11 30 a.m. – and you’ll know it’s coming when you hear the blaring notes of the brass band. Yellow-cloaked members of the Confraternita’ di Corpus Domini (roots traced to the medieval brotherhood honoring the Body of Christ, i.e., the Host), flank the bishop, monstrance upraised carrying the sacred Host. Only the bishop walks over the floral majesties: confraternity members, the band, the singing and praying populace following and the carabiniei in their red plumed ceremonial hats, shining swords at their waists, walk solemnly on the edges of the floral wonders.

Feverishly adding the finishing touches..

Feverishly adding the finishing touches..

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Three young infioratori, tired after a night’s work - but proud of their creation - sitting under the artist’s rendition of their carpet

Three young infioratori, tired after a night’s work – but proud of their creation – sitting under the artist’s rendition of their carpet

Young people elated that the all-night floral work is complete

Young people elated that the all-night floral work is complete

You’ll know the procession is coming when you hear the band blaring out the arrival

You’ll know the procession is coming when you hear the band blaring out the arrival

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The bishop will carry the Host over the welcoming floral carpets, carabinieri in dress uniform as honor guard

The bishop will carry the Host over the welcoming floral carpets, carabinieri in dress uniform as honor guard

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During my floral rovings, I came across Giuseppe in a wide-brrimmed hat, smiling and holding a step ladder steady for those who wished to climb it to photograh his group’s all-night (“we started at 10 pm last night,” he told me with a broad smile) floral fatigues, the work of his group of forty infioratori, called “Pochi ma buoni” (“ just a few..but good ones”).

Giuseppe, in wide-brimmed hat, holds the ladder for photographers

Giuseppe, in wide-brimmed hat, holds the ladder for photographers

Giuseppe’s group is called “Pochi ma buoni” and shirts have his wife Luciana on the front

Giuseppe’s group is called “Pochi ma buoni” and shirts have his wife Luciana on the front

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I climbed the ladder to photograph their infiorata:  a splendid wonder

I climbed the ladder to photograph their infiorata: a splendid wonder

Details of the splendid floral tappetto  of the group “ Pochi ma buoni”

Details of the splendid floral tappetto of the group “Pochi ma buoni

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I climbed up the ladder: what a wonder.

A few of the group were lounging sleepily near their floral carpet, inside the ground level of Giuseppe’s medieval house, now a garage and also used for storage of the firewood for the wood-burning stove.
What a pleasure to finally meet his wife, Luciana! I’ve know Giuseppe for a few years for he’s part of the group of elderly signori di Spello who sit together on the park benches in the main square every afternoon. With my tour guests, we always stop to chat with them. ( A few women sit on the benches in the lower part of the piazza – but most spellani women are home, cooking or cleaning, like Luciana).

Giuseppe and his wife Luciana

Giuseppe and his wife Luciana

Giuseppe, Luciana and family, all part of their infiorata group

Giuseppe, Luciana and family, all part of their infiorata group

Family and friends in Giuseppe’s group

Family and friends in Giuseppe’s group

Giuseppe and Luciana’s tired group sit and chat right alongside their floral masterpiece

Giuseppe and Luciana’s tired group sit and chat right alongside their floral masterpiece

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One of the group was wearing this floral group’s T-shirt with their motto (in spellano dialect): “e da Luciana, ora se magna, se magna, se magna…se magna.”
Yes, “at Luciana’s you eat, eat, eat, eat..”: dinner for all the group before they started the floral work started with pasta with wild asparagus and local sausage and Luciana’s lasagne followed by roast pork and roasted potatoes were just the headliners of the Infiorate day lunch.

..and not only do the infioratori of Luciana’s group eat well, they work well and with creativity. And once again, that group took home first prize in the category Tappetti Figurativi (long floral carpets, in alleyways, with images, minimum 12 m. long).

Other categories?
quadri (pictures, “paintings” – minimum 24 sq m.), tappetti geometrici (long floral carpets, in alleyways, min. 12 m. – with a series of forms, not images) and “Under 14” (min. 12 m. long floral tapestries done by children under the age of 14).

One of the categories in quadri (“pictures”)

One of the categories is quadri (“pictures”)

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Tappetti  carpet the narrow alleyways

Tappetti carpet the narrow alleyways

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Tappetti Under 14 - floral masterpieces of the children

Tappetti Under 14 – floral masterpieces of the children

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I was giving a Spello tour the day afer the Infiorate and spotted Giuseppe on his usual bench, chatting with his cronies. No wide-brimmed hat on that day but a wide smile spread across his face at my “Congratulazioni e complimenti!… a tutto il gruppo.”

No wide-brimmed hat on Giuseppe (in brown shirt) this time…but a wide smile…

No wide-brimmed hat on Giuseppe (in brown shirt) this time…but a wide smile…

This isn’t the first win for the “Pochi ma buoni” flower artists. And I’ll bet it won’t be the last one.

4 Comments

  • Jenny says:

    Wonderful. Absolutely amazing pictures. Thank you. With love, Jen.

  • Lynn Cowhig says:

    What fun we had in Spello with Anne. Beautiful little city. While we did get pictures with the signori de Spello and a wonderful lunch, sure would have loved to have been there on Corpus Domini. Oh well, maybe next time when, hopefully, back in Umbria.

  • Anne Robichaud says:

    Lynn, Jenny, your comments so appreciated.!
    Mille grazie!

  • Sally says:

    Wow! Spectacular flower pictures!

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