June is not only the time of the first swims and Sunday trips but it’s also the time for the infiorate (flower festivals), events that attract thousands of tourists and onlookers every year to see the work of the maestros of land-based artistic design, people who have become well-known internationally. For a few days, the streets in the old centres turn into little open-air museums, sparkling with colour in a great popular festival. In many Calabrian villages, there’s a competition to organise the most beautiful works of art created only with flowers, sand, wood and natural elements around the time of the Corpus Domini celebrations (the ninth Sunday after Easter which is usually about the middle of June).
The Infiorata at Potenzoni is a blaze of flowers and scents. For the religious feast of Corpus Domini, the village is enlivened by the traditional Infiorata which involves all four districts of the hamlet - Agave, Glicine, Torre and Chiesa. Streets, alleys and squares in Potenzoni are set up and decorated with hundreds of floral carpets depicting icons and religious symbols, then destroyed by the passage of the procession. The Infiorata at Potenzoni has become a true cultural and artistic event that attracts many onlookers and tourists from all the regions of Italy and further afield.
The event involves the whole village and so identifies the community of Potenzoni and its original and now historicised way of living Corpus Domini, one of the most important religious festivals in the calendar.
The floral works are the result of delicate and difficult work from many people that takes weeks and even months. The creation of an infiorata starts with the preliminary stage, important and demanding, which includes the search for and collection of flowers and then the selection and conservation of the petals. Teams of infioratori (people who work for the flower festivals) spread through the countryside looking for flowers.
They then detach the petals separating them by colour. This is a special time that unites the whole community and also generates healthy competition. The four districts in Potenzoni compete to produce the most beautiful work.
The Infiorata at Taurianova is now deep-rooted in the town and is considered an event that has been able to create synergy between the various local groups in the over-riding interest of increasing the social-artistic quality of Taurianova. The dominating topic inspiring local floral organisers is the inseparable link with childhood places so that the essence of the world around them can be grasped and release from sad stories and their influence on life obtained to reveal the true temperament of Calabrians. The carpet of flowers inebriating the atmosphere of Taurianova infiorate, which started from the close co-operation with the master infioratori from Noto and also takes advantage of the invaluable contribution of the art from Palmi and Potenzoni, is enriched each year with new details, making the event increasingly interesting for tourists and onlookers. The importation of new decorative techniques makes the beauty of the Taurianova infiorata, symbol of the town and the people, even more intense.
Other infiorate take place at Campora, Scalea and other Calabrian municipalities, always indicating the good will of townspeople and religious devotion. Although smaller in size than other similar events, the aim is to grow each year and try to build a tradition to develop in time.
The Corpus Domini Infiorata in Via Michelangelo Buonarroti at Gallico before the church of Maria di Portosalvo has become an institutional event. A large floral carpet spreads in front of the church, created with the aid of many local inhabitants and a quality worthy of the great national flower festivals.
The long procession reaches the Infiorata with great attention to respecting the floral path. At the end of the ceremonies, about midnight, everyone can walk on the carpets of flowers.
The Infiorata at Siderno Superiore was started only a few years ago but has already become significant. The considerable sections of Siderno covered by the works of art are inside the churches, the central streets and among the banks. The special beauty of the village is further enhanced with a distribution of flowers and relevant ornamental religious accessories. Practically every balcony is decorated with damask or an embroidered sheet, all the doors and windows have vases, candles, tea lights and prayer cards.
There are two spaces in the town - the Belvedere in Piazza San Nicola and Piazza Cavone, where floral production is concentrated, with notable aesthetic peaks.
There’s a marvellous ornamental frame of damask and sheets from windows and balconies, flowers everywhere, and posters of biblical quotations and the Gospel on the walls.
Monasterace joined the group of villages holding an Infiorata a few years ago, and creates works of great artistic quality although they are quite small and scattered throughout the area. The sections of street along the route of the procession are covered in petals by lidos, businesses or simple townspeople while finely embroidered covers and tablecloths of great quality are displayed on many balconies.
The most significant moment is when the officiating priest walks on the floral mantle with the ostensorium in his hand, which occurs just before entering the church. These are very intense minutes because of the overall context of the colours and shapes of the creations, the chants, harmonic hubbub and enraptured faces.