Starting from 1778, the main street of Genzano, during the religious feast of Corpus Domini in June, becomes a carpet of flowers, with "the Infiorata," forming beautiful colorful designs.
The carpet is the result of precision and patience. For the occasion, all the inhabitants of the town are mobilized to collect the petals, separate, distribute, draw the sketches, choose the different themes each year, and finally proceed with the decoration of the drawings. More than 400,000 flowers are used every year, mostly carnations, together with other materials, such as soil, sawdust, bark, etc.
Every year the "Infiorata" in Genzano has over 150 thousand visitors admiring the beautiful carpets of flowers, which transform Via Belardi into an open-air work of art. The paintings are drawn on the ground or prepared on a piece of paper. Then the decoration is carried out with the petals of flowers, functioning like a painter's palette: the yellow of the gorse, the blue of the agapanthus, the red of the carnations, the green of the boxwood. It is indeed an unmissable show!
On Sunday afternoon, the religious procession takes place on the street, but only the priests are allowed to walk on the flowers. The whole crowd must pass through the two side corridors; on Monday, children, and young people are the protagonists, and, starting from the stairs at the top of the street, run towards the flower carpet while destroying it.
Genzano bread is a typical product of the Lazio bakery, which derives from the long peasant tradition, in the Castelli Romani area. Already several centuries ago, this bread was baked in the wood-fired ovens. It was the task of the women who lived in the village to prepare bread and bring it to cook in public wood-burning ovens. Once the loaves were inserted in the oven, these women marked them with special signs, to distinguish them from those of other women. In the chronicles of the time, it is reported that every day, from the early hours in the morning, the streets of the village were invaded by the scent of wheat and wood.
In the municipality of Genzano, the bread production activity was so well established that it marked the different hours of the day. Historical records show that the tradition of bread was widespread as early as in 1600, so much so that Prince Cesarini Sforza, Lord of Genzano, offered it as a gift to the Pope. Back in time, the processing techniques have been refined and, with the arrival of the first electric mixers, the production has increased considerably. To date, Genzano bread is distributed in Rome but also in other Italian regions: vans leave at night with the first hot bread, which arrives in shops to be sold fresh in the morning.
Since the 1940s, Genzano bread has become famous throughout Italy, and in 1997 it was the first bread in Europe to obtain the IGP (protected geographical indication) recognition. The Genzano bread is characterized by its soft and frothy crumb and dark and crispy crust- which are a result of its baking in the wood oven. It is perfect for preparing the characteristic "bruschetta" with tomato (or not), garlic, and oil.
It is a very versatile bread, suitable for any side dish and any seasoning. It is also a perfect accompaniment to meats and cheeses. The production protocol, established by the regulations for the IGP recognition, requires that Genzano bread is produced exclusively in Genzano. The marketed shape of this bread is the long and elongated loaf or the loaf, which is round and large: its weight can go from ½ kilograms up to 2.5 kilograms. Genzano IGP bread is recognized by its label, which is applied before cooking, of course, without using glue.
Almost all the ovens in Genzano have joined the tradition of baking bread alongside the production of pizza, biscuits, and sweets. In the morning, there is freshly baked bread and pizza; for lunch, you can have a variety of sandwiches and maybe a nice slice of hot "pizza with mortadella." In the afternoon, get some biscuits or sweets of the Lazio tradition. Most of the ovens in Genzano are still powered by wood, respecting the ancient peasant tradition. Here are some recommendations for a tasty break in the name of this evolving tradition:
A specific beer was born from an idea by Marco Bocchini, owner of the "Forno a legna da Sergio." In fact, Marco came up with the idea of recycling unsold bread and fermenting it to make beer, as the ancient Babylonians did a few thousand years ago.
The name given to this beer has its own origins: "Pane Liquido" (in English "Liquid Bread"). It is enjoyable on the palate, slightly bitter, and has so far met a lot of consensus among the tasters. It is an 'ethical beer' as it fights the food waste of the unsold bread. With ½ ton of bread, 4,000 liters of beer can be made. Each 33 cl bottle contains a slice and a half of what would be bread.
Visiting Genzano means diving into its past. The centuries of history are found not only in monuments, squares, medieval towers, and baroque fountains but also in traditions such as the one of the floral carpet and the traditional bread. They are both experiences not to be missed during a visit to Rome or Lazio!
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