On the day of Corpus Domini, the streets and alleyways of many Italian villages are filled with flower carpets on which the procession passes, but there is one that stands out for its history and beauty: Genzano di Roma’s Infiorata on Lake Nemi.
It may be the choreography of a large road uphill that allows an incredible glance, it may be the oldest, it may be the skill of the masters, but over 150 thousand visitors come from all over to enjoy the show. Since 1778, every year the traditional Infiorata projects of the towns of the Roman Castles are under the international spotlight.
The absolute stars are the wonderful flower carpets that transform the streets into works of art, mixing religious elements and folklore. This tradition was born in Rome in the seventeenth century in the basilica of the Vatican by Benedetto Drei who took care of the Floreria and who had made a mosaic of flowers for the feast of the patrons Peter and Paul on 29 June 1625.
After the death of Drei, the great architect Bernini suggested continuing the tradition of Floral Festivals. Recall that in the Baroque architects were also involved in the organization of large parties and perhaps it was Bernini himself who brought this novelty to the Castelli Romani where it spread rapidly.
The festival of Corpus Domini recalls the miracle of bread that is transformed into the ‘body of Christ’ and was established in 1264 by Pope Urban IV in Orvieto. A very heartfelt ceremony in which the priest carried the monstrance in a procession under a canopy and for the first time in Genzano in 1778 passed over the floral carpet. Since then, in many Italian (and European) cities the tradition of ‘Infiorate’ has spread.
The Infiorata of Genzano di Roma was recognized in 2011 by the ministry as ‘Heritage of Italy for Tradition‘ as an expression of the ability to promote tourism and the national image and to enhance the history and culture of territory with an interpretation adapted to the times of today “.
There are two streets to be covered by a flowery carpet, via Italo Belardi and via Bruno Buozzi, which extends for almost 2,000 square meters. Over 20 varieties of flowers chosen to colour the paintings allow the artists to follow their creativity while respecting tradition.
Every year a theme is chosen that the infioratori masters must follow and in 2018 the 240 years will be celebratedwith the theme “The Infiorata of Genzano di Roma. 240 years of history, art and tradition “.
There are several phases that characterize the event: from the idea design to the preparation of the sketch, from the collection of flowers and plant essences to the separation of the petals from the corolla (“spelluccamento”), then preserved in the caves of the Palazzo Comunale.
On Saturday evening the drawings on the ground are brought to life, followed by the laying of the petals on Sunday mornings. The Infiorata is completed on the first Sunday afternoon. The festivities continue with the traditional procession that passes over the carpet and the Infiorata ends with the “shoulder”, a moment long awaited by the youngest who, running from the steps of the Church of Santa Maria, unravel the flowered paintings.
All Genzano is partying. The stars are the flowers, but during the three days of festivities several collateral events are held inside the symbolic places of the city such as Palazzo Sforza Cesarini and its park.
Exhibitions by artists and sculptors, concerts, choral performances with traditional songs and other performances in the major attractions of the city to give many moments of entertainment during the walks of tourists. The popular participation is summarized in the historical parade in costume by local associations. There are high-level initiatives to maintain traditions, promoting the overall revitalization of the city.
It is an unmissable spectacle, which has accompanied a traditional art for more than two centuries and which has given life to this tradition known beyond national borders. If you are in the area you can take advantage of it and rest your eyes for a few hours or for a whole weekend of ‘true Italian traditions’.