This blog post was updated on August 11, 2021.
In Italy, spring ushers in an array of celebrations and the Infiorata festivals tend to take the cake when it comes to artistry and color. Throughout select cities and towns, artists descend upon the streets to create works of art out of flower petals, hence the name Infiorata, meaning decorated with flowers. Not only can attending these festivals lend Instagram worthy photos but also you can see one of Italy’s most celebrated springtime events. We’re breaking down everything you need to know about these festivals and where you can see them in Italy firsthand come springtime.
Like with most festivals in Italy, Infiorata festivals have roots that lead all the way back to the 13th century. However, it wasn’t until June of 1625 that Benedetto Drei seemed to ignite the tradition again by creating the first flower carpets at the Vatican. The tradition would continue with famed Italian architects like Gian Lorenzo Bernini taking this flower petal artistry to the streets around Rome. Since its beginnings many centuries ago, the Infiorata style festivals have spread like wildflowers (pun intended) to many villages and towns across Italy.
Most flower carpet festivals in Italy occur generally in the spring and as with most festivals in the country, there is a religious connection. While some take place in late May, most revolve around the Corpus Domini feast which occurs on the ninth Sunday after Easter. That Sunday usually falls in mid-June.
Where To See Italy’s Infiorata Festivals
Many cities and towns across Italy host Infiorata events, mostly around the feast of Corpus Domini. While you can find some flower carpet component all around the country for this feast, these spots around Italy tend to put on some of the most famous.
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Set in the baroque town in southeastern city, Noto hosts one of the most celebrated Infiorata festivals. Every year on the third Sunday of May, the town ushers in spring with its own flower carpet celebration. The main street, Via Corrado Nicolaci, is outfitted with works of art in flower petal form by local artists. A tradition in Noto since 1980, Noto prepares the flower petal paintings beginning on Friday and Saturday. By Sunday, they are on full display. The town even makes the event fun for kids. On Monday morning, children in Noto are encouraged to run through the flower carpets to symbolize renewal or just every kid’s dream.
The Abbey of Chiaravalle della Colomba, Emilia Romagna
Some of Italy’s flower carpet festivals don’t take to the streets but rather the abbeys. In the Emilia-Romagna region, you can find one of those abbeys, the Abbey of Chiaravalle della Colomba. Hailing from 1135, the abbey boasts ornate frescoes and a gothic cloister. For the feast of Corpus Domini, the abbey pulls out all the stops, assembling flower tapestries inside the church along the naves. Monks and locals work to create these flower carpets which always have a religious theme. What makes the Infiorata of the Abbey of Chiaravalle della Colomba different from others is that you can typically view these creations up to two weeks after Corpus Domini.
In the quaint village of Spello in Italy’s Umbria region, Corpus Domini means flower petals and lots of them. Thousands of artists descend upon the town to create these flower carpets through Spello’s streets. The historic center turns into a kaleidoscope of colors. And these aren’t just petals from all over. Artists spend several months leading up to the event collecting flowers from the Umbrian countryside to create their works of art. Each design takes several months planning for the culminating procession on Sunday morning by the bishop. Spello has hosted its Infiorata festival since 1930.
If you are going to just see one of Italy’s famed flower carpet festivals it may as well be in the village of Genzano, located in the hills outside of Rome. Dating back to 1778, Genzano’s Infiorata is one the oldest in the country. Held every June one the Sunday of Corpus Domini, Genzano’s Infiorata brings in the color with 15 flower panels composed of around 500,000 flowers, blooms and seeds. Artists work tirelessly to create these flower petal paintings on a background of green leaves, usually to a set theme each year. Once the works have been assembled, the town turns up the volume with a procession down the center of the carpet of flowers. And just like in Noto, children are encouraged to rundown from the Church of Santa Maria and undo the panels.
While you might cringe when these works of art are processed down or pillaged by children, it is all a part of Italy’s Infiorate.
Have you been to one of Italy’s flower carpet festivals? Share your experience with us in the comments below.