8. Discovering new places
For as long as I can remember I have dreamed of travelling the world and experiencing different cultures and languages. I never wanted to simply visit other countries however, I always wanted to actually live and work abroad. I lived for a year on the French island of Guadeloupe in the West Indies, I then lived for a year in Nice on the Cote d'Azur and now I've spent the past 3 years living in Italy. It's time now for me to stop my exploring and settle down in one place although part of me does still dream of packing up and moving to yet another country. For now, I'm happy discovering as much as I can about this beautiful country I live in. I love going to visit all the little towns and villages round about and learning about their local traditions and customs.
One such tradition we experienced for the third time last weekend when we visited the nearby town of Spello for their annual 'Infiorata' festival which is held on Corpus Domini Sunday. During the months leading up to the event the inhabitants of Spello collect flowers which they then use to create the most amazing and intricate pictures on the streets of Spello. The night before the festival teams of these flower artists stay up all night preparing these 'paintings' ready for viewing the next morning. From afar the pictures actually look like paintings and it's only on closer inspection that you can see the images are made up of flower petals. Walking around during the night watching families and neighbours work together to prepare their works of art you can sense a great atmosphere of camaraderie and team spirit. Old signore sit in doorways preparing the petals, little children sort the petals into colours, everyone has a job to do.
On the Sunday morning Spello fills with visitors come to admire the beautiful images. Then, when the 12noon bell tolls a procession leaves the cathedral at the top of the hill. The procession winds down through the cobbled streets of Spello, destroying the delicate flower paintings. It is such a strange and wonderful celebration and one of the many things I love about being here in Italy.
Even without the streets decorated with flower art Spello is a beautiful town. The inhabitants obviously take real pride in maintaining their homes and taking care of their gardens. The streets are lined with pots and hanging baskets filled with colourful blooms and the air is heavy with the scent of jasmine, my favourite flower.