Spellbound in Spello

by Annie

“Bello Spello, vero?”, an elderly woman asks me as she polishes her brass doorknob to a gleam. Above her head, fiery red geraniums and hot pink petunias overflow in chromatic profusion from terracotta flower pots hanging on the stone wall of her house. I thought she might win the “Finestre, Balconi e Vicoli Fioriti” (Flowered windows, balconies and alleyways) contest – until I saw Attilio’s courtyard.

Every day, stonemason Attilio returns hot and sweaty from work and after a quick shower, spends hours in his courtyard tending the 120 flower pots hanging on the pink limestone wall.of his courtyard. On a recent Spello stroll, I asked him “Why all the hours after a hard day’s work?” “Passione“, he replied with a shrug and a smile as he pointed to his handmade sign: “Respect the flowers and do not touch with your hands. I am very jealous (as in “hyper-protective”!) of them – and they are delicate”.

Spello’s floral passione comes to culmination each year with the magnificent flower petal tapestries of the Infiorate for Corpus Domini (60 days after Easter, info here and here), but not only. During the weeks leading up to it, windowboxes, wrought iron balconies and Spello’s winding medieval alleyways erupt in floral profusion: the contest is on.

The winner of each category – window, balcony, alleyway – is chosen on the Sunday prior to the Infiorata, based on the following criteria: combination of colors, healthy aspect of the flowers throughout the duration of the competition (a few weeks), originality of composition, incorporation of the beauty of typical architectural elements of medieval Spello and the harmonious inclusion of the urban context and surrounding landscape.

Although he has won twice in the past, Attilio did not win in 2011, I hear. This year? Head up to Spello during the week or two prior to the Infiorata itself – and prepared to be SPELLbound.

(9th & 10th June, 2012! Official site for Spello’s Infiorata here.)

Spello - floral profusion in the alleyways
Spello - incorporating architecture into floral context
Barbara, 90 years - proud Spellana
Spello courtyard - with hanging plants
Spello contest  - floral health and color varieties count
Spello floral alleyway

Spello - pink limestone medieval gem

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