L'Infiorata: Italy's Carpets of Flowers

Wed, 06/24/2009 - 11:55
If you've always imagined your carpets made of vibrant, fresh-smelling flowers, you should check out the L'Infiorata festivals held throughout Italy during May and June. The celebrations are held every year in conjunction with Corpus Domini, which means the dates change. The floral designs and patterns vary as well, but the beauty always remains.

The term "infiorata" means "decorated with flowers," and decorating with flowers is precisely what residents of all ages in towns like Noto in Sicily, Spello in Umbria, Genzano in Lazio, Pienza in Tuscany, and Briatico in Calabria wait all year to do. They grow and collect flowers of every color of the rainbow (and then some, it seems) and use their petals to create both simple and elaborate designs on the pavements leading up to their churches and abbeys. No one knows for sure how the tradition got started, but it's been around for generations.

Designs are sketched first in chalk and the lines marked with soil. Then comes the job of filling in the marvelous creations with flower petals, which are cut to a uniform size, done by faithful Infiorata participants over the course of several days. Some tapestries also use entire petals and other greenery, making for more three-dimensional scenes.

Upon completion of these handmade street art projects, a religious procession passes over them, leaving behind nothing but trampled petals and happy memories. Thank goodness for videos!

Have you ever seen these seemingly magic carpet creations in person?