I’ve witnessed some celebrations in my life. But, I can honestly say I’ve never seen anything quite like what happens every Easter morning in Florence!
The celebration that takes place in and in front of the Duomo is somewhere between a Chinese New Year spectacle, combined with something you might see in a festival in India, with some Roman Catholic overtones.
Honestly, I’m still scratching my head!
So, I got to the Piazza del Duomo about 9:45 and already the crowds were thick. I was able to nab a pretty good spot to watch part of the parade arrive in front of the Duomo.
Then I moved to a better spot to see the Carro. Unfortunately, by 10 a.m. the crowds were super thick.
The white oxen festooned with floral wreaths pull the antique Carro to the front of the Duomo and park it there, lining it up with a mechanical dove that will shoot out of the church at the right moment, and alight the Carro.
The beloved Carro or Brindellone returns to piazza del Duomo every year on Easter Sunday. Housed 364 days of the year in via il Prato, this cart filled loaded with fireworks is paraded through the city streets, arriving in front of Santa Maria del Fiore at around 10am. After the cathedral’s morning mass, much pomp and circumstance ensues all leading to the festivity’s ending in a pyrotechnic spectacle.
A dove-shaped rocket called the colombina is ignited inside the cathedral and then runs along a wire out to the Brindellone, which it ignites.
No matter how many pictures I post, nothing will take the place of these Youtube videos. Stay with it, the fireworks are incredible. Not sure how it celebrates the Resurrection of Christ, but that’s not a problem in this famous Florentine celebration!
Legend has it that if the Brindellone alights completely as planned, Florence will have a bountiful harvest and a great year. From the looks of it, 2017 will be a boon year in Firenze!
Enjoy the following videos! Buona Pasqua!
On Easter Sunday every year, Florence celebrates the religious holiday in a very special way. The Scoppio del Carro, or the “Explosion of the Cart”, dates back over 350 years. An elaborate wagon built in 1622 and standing two to three stories high is pulled by a pair of white oxen decorated with garlands through the streets of Florence to the square between the Baptistry and Cathedral.
This tradition finds its origins in events that are partly historic and partly legendary. A young Florentine named Pazzino, a member of the noble Pazzi family, apparently took part in the First Crusade in the Holy Land in 1099, where he gave ample proof of his courage (he was the first to scale the walls of Jerusalem and raise the Christian banner).
When he came home, he brought back three flints from the Holy Sepulchre that he received for his act of courage. This reliquary, today preserved in the Church of SS. Apostoli, lies behind the Florentine celebration for the Resurrection of Christ.
Today, the ceremony still bears a strong resemblance to the way in which it has been celebrated for centuries. Starting around 10am, a priest rubs Pazzino’s three flints together until they spark and light the Easter candle; this, in turn, is used to light some coals which are placed in a container on the Cart and the procession delivers the Holy Fire to the Archbishop of Florence before Santa Maria del Fiore, better known as il Duomo. The cart is accompanied by drummers, flag throwers and figures dressed in historical costume as well as city officials and clerical representatives.