Flower Petals Line The Streets in Cinque Terre’s Riomaggiore.

“It is an endless procession of surprises. The expected rarely occurs and never in the expected manner.”
– Vernon A. Walters

Yes, Surprises.

Sometimes, the best things in life are completely unexpected.

Last week, while staying in the Cinque Terre area of Italy, myself and a new friend from my hostel stumbled across a delightful festival entirely by accident in the town of Riomaggiore.

Earlier that day, I had made plans to meet some other girls from the hostel in La Spezia for a wine festival celebrating all things local. After a day of hiking and swimming (Tough life I know!), I came back to the hostel, showered and waited for them to arrive. While waiting, I struck up a conversation with a lovely woman staying in my room. We decided to go to the festival without them and hoped to see them there.

When we arrived at the train station in Manarola (the town in Cinque Terre where our hostel was located), we discovered the ticket office was closed and my friend would be unable to purchase the needed train ticket to La Spezia. Instead, we decided to hike to Riomaggiore, explore the town and drink wine in whatever bar we could find open.

Riomaggiore - A Town in Cinque Terre, Italy
Riomaggiore – A Town in Cinque Terre, Italy
Typical Homes in Riomaggiore
Typical Homes in Riomaggiore

Experiencing Love in Cinque Terre

We both found it quite comical that we were walking the Via dell’Amore, the notorious way of love with one another. In fact, on my recent trip to Italy, I spent loads of “romantic times” with female friends both new and old. Sigh, there was no hot Italiano lovers to be had on this trip! Ha ha.

Via dell'Amore
Via dell’Amore

Arriving in Riomaggiore, we gasped with joy when we saw the streets were lined with flower petals! It was so beautiful. We both immediately began snapping photos and wondered what significance the flowers held? As we walked through the town, we saw that all of the streets were lined with brightly colored flowers. Some streets were even lined with lighted candles.

Flower Petals Lined Both Sides of the Street
Flower Petals Lined Both Sides of the Street
Preparation for a Saint's Parade
Preparation for a Saint’s Parade
Riomaggiore's San Giovanni Festivities
Riomaggiore’s San Giovanni Festivities
Infiorata - Flower Art Festivals in Italy
Infiorata – Flower Art Festivals in Italy
Candles Also Lined The Streets
Candles Also Lined The Streets

We stopped for our glass of wine and as we were sitting there chatting, we suddenly heard music and people singing.

Something Special

The entire town was taking part in a parade or procession celebrating their local saint as part of their San Giovanni Festivities, which is held every June. It was quite spectacular to behold the village priests, marching band and townspeople carrying lighted candles as they walked along the darkened streets of Riomaggiore solemnly singing.

The flowers and candles on the street were set out in preparation for the parade where the saint is carried through the village on display for all to see. In fact, some villages across Italy create elaborate works of street art, known as Infiorata.

We both smiled at one another, agreed that we didn’t mind missing out on the wine festival and that maybe this unexpected and wonderful surprise was “meant to be“.  Not sure if I believe in fate, but I certainly enjoyed this experience.

The Procession Through Town
The Procession Through Town
Honoring Their Saint
Honoring Their Saint
The Whole Town Gets Involved
The Whole Town Gets Involved


Founder of cherylhoward.com. Canadian in Berlin. Frequent traveller now at 43 countries and counting.

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