The fragrances and colours of Spello’s Corpus Christi flower carpets
Every year, thousands of visitors are greeted by 1,500 metres of elaborate flower carpets and fragrances wafting through the air enveloping passers-by at the Corpus Christi celebrations in Spello, Umbria.
For months, artists design and prepare beautiful floral creations that are spread out along all the streets and squares, filling them with fragrances and a joyous spectacle of colours.
Floral carpets inspired by religious motifs celebrate Jesus and the Eucharistic miracle on one of the most important feasts in the Catholic liturgy: Christ walks the roads of the world and goes out to meet every person.
The custom of decorating the route of religious processions with flowers dates back to ancient times. While flowers were originally distributed in bulk, over time the first beautiful carpets of broom and wild fennel were created, embellished with friezes of cornflower, daisies, velvety petals and roses.
In Spello, the tradition dates back to the very first decades of the 20th century when a woman drew a simple floral figure on the road. Not long after, it was imitated and a new challenge emerged to create ever more beautiful and larger works.
Preparation begins in the months leading up to the event, as locals search for and collect the flowers, followed by the trimming, selecting and storing of the petals. In the days just before the festival, teams of Infioratori (flower arrangers) head out along the slopes of Mount Subasio, through the fields and plains of the green valleys of Umbria to gather flowers and fragrant herbs that other citizens, and especially the elderly ladies, can pick and arrange.
This ancient tradition, an exaltation of beauty that involves all the senses, is a hymn to Love that makes its way into our lives.