In May and June, many cities and small towns transform into open-air galleries, coming alive with infiorate, or flower festivals.

The word infiorata literally means "decorated with flowers", and these festivals feature stunning pieces of art made from vibrant flower petals, blooms and seeds.

While flower festivals take place all over Italy, from the north to the southern island of Sicily, the most famous one is the Infiorata di Genzano in Rome.

The festival has been held on the Sunday of Corpus Domini for more than 200 years, though its origins are debated: some say it began in 1778, while others argue it was 1782.

This year, the Infiorata di Genzano will take place from June 17 to 19.

The event features a grandiose carpet made from around five tonnes of flowers which forms works of art along the streets.

Featuring hundreds of artists and over 350,000 flowers, the floral mosaics cover almost 2000 square metres, connecting Piazza IV Novembre with the Church of Santa Maria della Cima.  

Artists are only allowed to use specific species of flowers to depict each colour in their masterpieces, including broom for yellow, goat’s rue for blue, carnation for red, and wild fennel for green.

On the Thursday before the festival, the meticulous job of separating the flowers according to their colour takes place.

Using individual petals the way painters use the colours on their palette, the artists complete mesmerising masterpieces just before sunrise on the Sunday to avoid them wilting before the main event.

Crowds gather to witness the Corpus Domini procession as it passes down the centre of the floral carpet, admiring the wonderful marriage of art, nature and religion.

The festival comes to an exciting end with the spallamento, when children race down the street, “destroying” the floral creation. 

Over its long lifetime, the Infiorata di Genzano has evolved from a popular local festival into an international spectacle of art, tradition and, above all, faith, which thousands of visitors from Italy and abroad experience with awe every year.