Ellen Miller
Ellen Miller

Many Florentines beat a path out of town over the Easter holiday weekend since it is a long weekend, but those that do are missing out on one of the city’s best time-honored traditions.
When Easter Sunday dawns late this April, those in the know will head to Piazza del Duomo to get a good spot for viewing the Scoppio del carro, a unique tradition that translates roughly to “Explosion of the Cart” in English.
The tradition dates back to the first crusade, when Europeans besieged the holy city of Jerusalem, determined to take Palestine for Christianity.
In 1097, Pazzino de’ Pazzi, a Florentine, scaled the walls of the city, becoming the first to do so.
In reward he was given three flints which he brought back with him to Tuscany.
It became a tradition on Easter to light a fire with the flints.
The tradition today looks much different, and dates to the 15th century.
On Easter Sunday an ancient cart, used for over 500 years, is brought to Piazza del Duomo for the ceremony.
The cart is loaded with fireworks and set alight with a fire that has been lit with the historic flints.
The archbishop himself will be in Florence for the day to strike the flint and light the Easter candle, which will light a bundle of coal and thus create the fire used for the main ceremony.
The fire will light a dove shaped rocket inside the church which will then fly down a wire to the cart outside the church, setting off the spectacle.
The fireworks show that follows lasts about 20 minutes, and is truly a unique celebration of the day.
For those sticking around for the holiday, be sure to grab a spot for watching early, despite the number of people out of town, the spectacle is sure to draw a crowd.
The procession starts at 10 AM with the wagon, which was built in 1622 and is adorned with garlands is pulled by a pair of oxen and accompanied to the main square by a procession of drummers, flag throwers, people dressed in historic costumes and of course important civic figures.
The explosion occurs an hour later at 11.

Scoppio del Carro 2014
Cristiano Imperiali di Francavilla photographer