Hello friends! I hope you had a happy holiday weekend with friends and family, regardless of what religion you follow or choose not to. In Italy, the vast majority of the population is Catholic and Easter is a big. deal. A lot of stores and restaurants were actually open on Easter when I was out and about, but for many Italians (aka not the tourists frequenting said stores and restaurants) the weekend is a good time to catch up with family in particular. Easter is celebrated on Sunday, naturally, and many Italians attend mass, and then on Easter Monday, Pasquetta in Italian, most families head out of town (if they are not gone already) to spend some time together in the countryside.
The night before Easter there was a procession to the Duomo and the priest lit the Easter “candle.” More like a giant ball of fire. Perhaps it was an intricately shaped candle, but we couldn’t tell from up above. But OMG the view!
Ironically, what Florence is known for best at Easter isn’t even a Catholic tradition; rather it’s just a long-standing one, but a big one nonetheless. A friend of mine hosted a brunch and I spent the night before at her apartment helping her get ready. She totally lucked out… her apartment has views of the Duomo from the windows and was thus PERFECT for watching the festivities!
The Scoppio del Carro is annually celebrated in Florence on Easter Sunday and translated into English means “explosion of the cart.” The story goes that once upon a time (in old Florentine history), in 1622 to be exact, the cart was built. Pazzino, a young Florentine, took part in the first crusade of the Holy Land. Being the first to scale the walls of Jerusalem, he was rewarded with three flints from the Holy Sepulchre. At 10 AM a priest uses the flints to light an Easter candle, which they use to light coals, which are transported in the cart to the Duomo. They are taken inside the church but the cart stays outside and the coals are used to light something like a rocket that shoots back outside the church to set off the fireworks in the cart.
Below you can see where the men in traditional historical costume have accompanied the cart to the center in front of the Duomo.
Despite the sunlight, it was pretty spectacular! Quite the show and what a way to start Easter Sunday! It was hard to get good photos, but such an amazing experience. I did capture this sweet video that will give you a pretty good idea of what was going on.
It was so, so cool to be able to view everything from a bird’s-eye view and avoid the crowds below! So many people leave Florence for the holiday (as did I the last time), but I’m so glad I opted to stay this time around.