Monday, June 11, 2012

An Explosion of Flowers: Corpus Domini in Piegaro

Living in a small village in Umbria, I am bound by daily and yearly rhythms.My life is characterized by ease and naturalness.  I am easily bound to my neighbors. Friendships develop and are easily nurtured in a village.  Our lives are naturally intertwined in many ways.  From the first opening of our window shutters and our morning greetings to each other, to the last "buona notte" when we leave the piazza and head to bed, we easily pass the time of day and share our lives.  We care about each other and naturally share our lives.  The fabric of village life is woven with these daily and yearly rituals.

On Sunday, June 10, one of these rituals is the celebration of Corpus Domini, the day that the tiny village of Piegaro is changed into a mystical warren of streets lined with flower tapestries.  On this day everyone wakes early to go into the fields and along roadsides to gather wild flowers, the fragrant yellow ginestre, white Queen Anne's Lace and red poppies.  Closer to home we raid our gardens to clip geraniums, pansies and roses to create religious symbols, huge hearts and goofy smiling suns.
The guests of L'Antica Vetreria are excited to join in this magical day, picking the petals of geraniums and roses and stripping the huge boughs of ginestra.
Each street and neighborhood of our medieval village has its own tradition; my street is always adorned with a big heart outlined in green ivy and filled with red and pink geraniums and roses. Adults and children pack the heart with blossoms and create a trail of poppies and ivy up the
street to the big sunshine the children make with pine cones as the radiating beams, and continue on up towards my neighbor's doorway where we contribute a bucket of rose petals to fill in her design

and on towards Lea, my Italian sister who quickly commendeers the children to help drape the walls of her street with boughs of ginestre and wheat sheaves.  The children are excited when she tells them they can create any design they once again they pick a smiling sun to fill the street.

Surrounded by the fragrance of the yellow ginestre and the blooming jasmine clinging to the wall of the church rectory, we are just about swooning.

We all have to work quickly before the villagers exit the church service of Corpus Domini to begin the procession through the flower-filled streets which are now a warren of infiorata tapestries.
Banners appear draped under windows and flapping from balconies; one surprise is a banner festooned with fresh cherries.  The family in this street has substituted the traditional vase of flowers for boughs of cherries also.  My neighbor, Genesio, steals a cherry and pops it into his mouth as we process by the altar after Don Augusto, our priest, has blessed us.  The serious and sacred is easily leavened with whimsy and wonder.
Each year I look forward to this day when we are joined together in preserving cherished traditions that resonate powerfully within all our hearts.  This year is special for our guests have experienced something unique, but to us who live in Piegaro,it is just naturally how our lives are connected.  The ease and naturalness of this day has its own mystical blessings for villagers and guests alike.

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