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Infiorata. Artistic flower carperts

Genzano, a small town 30 km southeast of Rome, near the Nemi lake, is world famous for its Infiorata (flower fair). Infiorata are feast of Corpus Christi events in which roads are covered with carpets of flowers for communion processions. This event has been celebrated yearly, in June, the day of the Corpus Domini, since June 1778, when the brothers Arcangelo and Nicola Leofreddi wished to celebrate the sacred day with flowers. Actually, the "Infiorata", owes its origin to a similar event which has taken place in Rome since 29 June 1625, when Benedetto Drei, head of the papal flower nursery, decided to better celebrate the Corpus Domini by covering the floor of the Vatican Church with a mat of flowers. In the following years, "Infiorata" was most likely planned by Gianlorenzo Bernini. Bernini also kept this tradition; but the origin of this popular fair is due to its citizens. In the last century, thanks to its popularity it had already been defined an "European fair" by the historian and scholar Gaetano Moroni.

Now let's see how the "Infiorata" is prepared: a few days before the celebration people pick up flowers and plants of every kind, the petals are collected in large baskets according to their colour. They are kept in a cool place, in typical "caves" in the old town centre and then used to prepare the pictures, forming the marvellous flower-mat. A whole street is subdivided into thirteen sections, each one assigned to one of the flower masters, who are Genzano citizens and members of families that share a long tradition in the art of flower painting. The street pavement preparation starts in the morning: first come the drawings and then the petals. At the center of the festival, leading the communion procession along the gentle slopes of the Via Livia carrying baskets of varicolored flower petals, the people of Genzano skillfully fill in pre-drawn chalk designs with the flowers. Watching the various patterns come to completion with such ease and in such short time offers yet a different sense of enjoyment than viewing the completed carpets or the solemn procession.The time needed to complete the carpets is a mere few hours; however, preparations begin two weeks beforehand.The flowers gathered for this day are separated by color, and the petals are then removed from the stems, which will be used for the outer frames of the pictures.The designs are truly varied, ranging from religious themes such as the Holy Mary and Crucifixion to the Genzano coat of arms and symmetrical geometric patterns, each being a superb work of art. The final result is a marvellous flower mat, 250 meters long, consisting of about 50.000 Kg of flowers, from the church Santa Maria della Cima to the main square, celebrating the devotion and love of the people of Genzano for this tradition. 

The "Infiorata", a unique world show and a splendid synthesis between nature-beauty and human genius, has been enchanting visitors for more than 200 years. It is possible to understand the aesthetic allure of this work through the works of writers such as Lord Byron, Goethe (his "Memories"), Massimo D'Azeglio (he tells about his impressions in "I miei ricordi"), H.C. Andersen (he described the "Infiorata" in the novel "L'improvvisatore"). In 1978, on the occasion of the 2nd centenary of the "Infiorata", the Japanese Embassy in Italy sent an invitation to perform the "Infiorata" in Tokyo; needless to say the ceremony was a big success in this country so sensitive to flower beauty. This is the beginning of the exportation of "Infiorata", so many invitations from all over the world were received that several performances took place in Italy and abroad: in 1980 in Noto in Sicily, in Bologna in 1983, in Aosta in 1985, in Philadelphia in the U.S.A. in 1985, in Palermo, New York and again in Tokyo in 1986, again in New York on the 1988 Columbus Day, in Toronto and Montreal in Canada in 1991. Since 1982, thanks to master Renato Guttuso, great Italian artists have been participating with sketches for the creation of one of the thirteen pictures. This is the historical and artistic itinerary of the "Infiorata". From a modest popular event it developed into an authentic artistic and cultural expression of a people.

There is no point in attempting to further describe it, the "Infiorata" is a must to be seen!





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