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Here, where the lavender grows


Miles and miles of lavender.

Waves of little purple and white stems that envelop us.

A sweet smell that fills the air of this sunny, summery Sunday.

Bees that zip by pollinating one flower, then move to the next one over.

No, we’re not in Provence.

We’re in Assisi, Umbria. A beautiful, hilly region in northeastern Italy.

We have come here from the other side of the country, just like hundreds and hundreds of others.

And we are here to catch a glimpse of the famous Festa della Lavanda.

This Festa is held yearly and is hosted by the largest lavender nursery in the region, Il Lavandeto di Assisi.

It is under the management of the #1 growers in Umbria: Lorena and Gino. And it is their smiles which first greet us when entering the premises.

Still afloat in the scent and the soft wind blowing, we come back down to earth and offer our smiles back.

We had first met the couple at the Festival del Verde e del Paesaggio, held in May, in Rome. After a highly informative discussion on planting techniques, we were invited to join the Festa.

It is a joy to see them again, in the mix of colors, people and flowers.

After exchanging “saluti”, we start our tour.

In the small garden preceding the entrance to the event, several stands fill the area with an outburst of color. They offer handmade lavender products, ranging from sachets, to soap, to lavender-infused honey. Several stands sell a variety of other flowers and herbs as well. These too, are grown by the Lavandeto.

After talking to the all of the craftsmen, we walk towards a beautiful and flowery gate. It welcomes us so readily to enter the festa that it almost appears to be smiling!

We walk through it and the whole property opens back up to us.

As we make our way through the purple fields, we are accompanied by a constant, low hum. We – again – notice how many bees are pollinating. Of course, lavender is famous for being the ideal companion to just about any plant. It attracts bees, facilitating pollination, and keeps mosquitos and other pests away.

We get to a beautiful shaded area. Here, a weeping willow offers its branches as shelter from the hot, Italian sun. At its feet is a small lake, where water lilies flow in fuchsia, pink and white. This is the perfect place to take more pictures, start a live broadcast on social media and then rest. But only for a few minutes, as there is so much more to see!

By the time we get to the actual lavender fields, we are knee-deep in all kinds of hues. Did you know that lavender also blooms in blue, pink and white? These particular species originate from the western side of Europe (France, UK) and the pink variety is more rare than than the blue one.

If you were here, this is where you would get lost, where you would play hide and seek with your kids for the day, where the photo album on your phone would start bursting. And where you would sit, for hours on end, just soaking up Mother Nature’s gifts and loving life in the fullest sense.

Time flies, though, and we do not realize our ten minutes here are actually two hours. So we decide to make our way past the snack pergola, then towards the exit. Here, several new passengers await us: a few Sussex, a few Hidcote and several herb plants. They will be coming back with us to their new home, where they will be the basis for recipes, oils and photos. We will also harvest their seeds, when the time comes, and we will then share them with family, friends and local farmers.

If you are lucky enough to be in Italy these coming two weeks, jump on a train to Assisi and come visit the Festa. Lorena, Gino and their whole team are here this weekend (24/25 June) and the following one (01/02 July).

Here, where the lavender grows, you will be welcomed with a smile and waved on your journey back home by sweet memories.

Michelle Calcatelli

Michelle Calcatelli

Hi there! My name is Michelle. I'm an American living in Italy, mom of two girls, a lover of travel, music and good food shared with loved ones. I am a freelance grant writer and a former agricultural development practitioner, having worked mostly in rural Africa for 18 years. I look forward to creating a space here - with your help - where we can exchange dreams, ideas and kindness to start shaping a better tomorrow.

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