Every year, Florence has a special way of celebrating Easter Sunday.
A decadent wagon, built in 1622, standing about two stories high, is pulled through the streets of Florence by oxen.
Once it reaches Santa Maria del Fiore (also known as the Duomo) the Archbishop lights a dove-shaped rocket that flies out down a wire and collides with the wagon. The wagon, rigged with fireworks, then explodes into a beautiful display accompanied by an uproar of cheers from the crowd!
The tradition of the Scoppio Del Carro, or “Explosion of the Cart,” dates back over 350 years during the First Crusade when Europeans were fighting against Muslims to claim the Holy Land.
Legend goes that the first knight to climb the wall to Jerusalem was Pazzio de’ Pazzi from Florence. To honor his bravery, Pazzio was given three pieces of stone from the tomb where Jesus was buried.
On Easter eve a fire was lit with the stones and each person was given some of the light to represent purification. As years passed the tradition grew more elaborate and eventually became what it is today.
Scoppio Del Carro is a very complex ritual that, if proceeds smoothly, represents good health and good harvest for the year to come.
With Easter on its way, be sure to add the celebration of the exploding cart to your plans! The event occurs Easter morning at 11am at the Piazza Duomo. It is recommended to arrive about an hour early to find a spot since it will be extremely crowded. To see the start of the parade go to Via il Prato, next to the Grand Hotel Villa Medici, at 9am. From there you can follow the procession of the cart and parade as it makes it way to the Duomo!
Photo from Pinterst: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/207376757816305006/