For a full four days, sacred and secular elements come together to carry on the ancient traditions of Carzano. They are wont to refer to the Montirola flower festival as the feast of our Holy Cross, referring to a miracle that brought an epidemic of Asian cholera to an immediate end.
This event, also called “ol festù del deaol” (from the dialect: festoon of the devil), is so impressive that it attracts not only local residents but also thousands of tourists from all over Italy. The name alludes to a pageantry once considered excessive compared to the modest economic means of humble fishermen.
Montisola flower festival: what are its characteristics?
The tradition of the Montisola paper flower festival has been handed down for over a century and a half. It intensely involves all the inhabitants of Carzano (who work on its preparation), and “excludes” anyone who is not part of the small community.
In fact, for outsiders it must be a surprise involving illuminations, wooden arches covered with pine branches, fireworks, processions, flowers made from paper and cannon shots. The residents of Carzano are so attached to the Montisola festival that they self-tax themselves monthly to finance its expenses. What’s more, they elect a specific committee to manage the organizational and financial phases.
Origins and history of the Montisola flower festival
The Montisola Flower Festival originated during the first cholera epidemic of 1836 that decimated the population, especially the fishermen. They, in fact, were in constant contact with the dirty waters of the lake and lived inside damp dwellings due to wet nets.
The survivors asked to Santa Croce for help; the tremendous epidemic ceased, and as a sign of thanksgiving they organized a procession in which a relic of the pious woman was carried.
The historical evolution of the festival
In the past, the bows for the Montisola Flower Festival were made from the green of the reeds. Then, as this vegetation thinned, the more valuable pine branches began to be used. As for the illuminations, however, today they are replaced by 12,000 colored bulbs.
In the past, snail shells filled with oil were used,. Regarding the tradition of paper flowers, it began because “fresh” ones were an unaffordable luxury for villagers.
Even today these precious“flowers of Montisola” are made with love through secret techniques handed down from mother to daughter. The people of Carzano display the flowers outside their homes and throughout the locality only at the last moment. They are so beautiful that they look real.
The festival begins with the firing of cannons, the procession followed by the Bishop of Brescia and accompanied by the band, the display of fine embroidery, and fireworks.
Montisola flower festival: how to get there
Usually the Montisola Flower Festival is held every 5 years. Recently, due to the alas notorious pandemic, it was postponed (to 2025) and not held at the stroke of the 5th year.
To reach the fair, one must of course reach Montisola via one of the ferries that shuttle between the towns on the beautiful island in the center of Lake Iseo and its shores. You may be interested in this article of mine What to do in Monte Isola (also find information on how to reach each location), or a overview of all the islands of Lake Iseo.
Why Participate in the Montisola Flower Festival
This wonderful and characteristic event in Montisola allows you to immerse yourself in a magical and folkloric atmosphere. The inhabitants support each other to amaze visitors who flock to admire the magnificent creations in an atmosphere of absolute serenity and positivity.
Another aspect to remember are the numerous stalls of handicraft products that make a visit to the Montisola flower festival an unforgettable experience. It is also a wonderful opportunity to admire Lake Iseo from a different perspective.