Spello is lovely, laid-back, Umbrian town of only a little more than eight thousand citizens. It feels even smaller. Barbara and I had the privilege of living there for a month a bit over a decade ago. The town’s one great pageant, Le Infiorata di Spello, is held each year at the feast of Corpus Domini. In 2012 we brought our Arts Sojourn Umbria group to visit Spello during preparations for the infiorata. Artisans prepare for months in advance to cover the pavement of the streets and piazze with intricate tapestries formed solely of flower petals and other natural plant matter.
The designs range from complex abstractions and reproductions of well-known master paintings to various expressions of religious devotion. During Le Infioriate di Spello forty thousand visitors come to share in the festivities. There are concerts, presentations, and a religious procession celebrating the feast. Eventually prizes are awarded for the most artful presentations and shortly thereafter weather, foot traffic and finally the street sweeper remove every trace of Spello’s great moment.
In 2014 the festival will be held on June 21 and 22. If you’re in Umbria the infiorata would be well worth a visit, however a spectacle nearly as vivid takes place every afternoon when the lowering western sun bathes the buildings and walls of Spello in glowing pink. The town of ascends the southern slope of Monte Subasio and it is possible to take a long day hike from Spello, north along the high ridge all the way to the town of Assisi. The stone of Spello was quarried from Monte Subasio and it is unusual for its decidedly rosy caste. Many of Assisi’s builders used the same pink stone during its construction.
Matthew Daub is a professional artist and university professor with works in major public and private collections throughout the United States and Europe. He has been leading plein air painting workshops in Italy since 1994. In 1999, Matthew and his wife Barbara formed Arts Sojourn as “a vacation for artists and their friends.” The program is designed to appeal to artists of all levels as well as non-artists who enjoy the company of creative people in a slow travel format.
Slow Travel Tours is an affiliation of small-group tour operators who offer personalized trips in Italy, France and other European countries.