Florence Easter Sunday, Explosion of the Cart

April 16, 2023 @ 10:00 am
Scoppio del Carro
Piazza del Duomo
Florence Easter Sunday, Explosion of the Cart @ Scoppio del Carro | Firenze | Toscana | Italy

The Upcoming Florence Easter Sunday, Explosion of the Cart

On Easter Sunday every year, Florence celebrates the religious holiday in a very special way. The Scorpio del Carro, or the “Explosion of the Cart“, dates back over 350 years. It showcases an elaborate wagon built in 1622.  Ultimately, standing two to three stories high, a pair of oxen pull the cart, decorated in garlands through the streets of Florence. Finally, at the end of it’s trip it arrives to the square between the Baptistry and Cathedral.


The History Behind Florence Easter Sunday, Explosion of the Cart

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, took part in the First Crusade in the Holy Land in 1099. 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 Sepulcher that he received for his act of courage. Consequently this reliquary, today preserved in the Church of SS. Apostoli, lies behind the Florentine celebration for the Resurrection of Christ.


Florence Easter Sunday, Explosion of the Cart – Today

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.  Consequently, the procession delivers the Holy Fire to the Archbishop of Florence before Santa Maria del Fiore, better known as the Duomo. The cart is accompanied by drummers, flag throwers and figures dressed in historical costume as well as city officials and clerical representatives.


The Cart, properly rigged with a suitable arsenal of fireworks, then awaits in front of the cathedral. From the cathedral’s altar, at around 11 am, when the “Gloria” is sung inside the church, the Archbishop uses the fire to light a dove–shaped rocket (called the “Colombina” and symbolizing the Holy Spirit) and this consequently flies out, down a wire, to the outside of the church.  It collides with the Cart in the square, setting off a spectacular firework display to the cheers of all.  And the Explosion of the Cart ensues! If the complex ritual proceeds smoothly and all of the fireworks go off, good luck is ensured for a good harvest for this year as well as for the city and its citizens.  So we hope for a wonderful explosion of the cart every Easter! Youtube has a great video of the fireworks.


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