Those who want to commemorate Easter and to celebrate the rebirth unusually and interestingly can undoubtedly choose Florence. Easter in Florence is not just an acquaintance with one of the most beautiful Italian cities and its architectural and artistic monuments, but also a touch of local traditions, customs and food. Thus UnseenTuscany.com will tell you about the spots that are worth seeing, about the carriage, which is the most important attribute of the feast, and of course, about the traditional Easter lunch in Italian style.
Upon arrival in Florence before Easter, it is necessary to explore the world-famous masterpieces: the cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, the Palazzo Vecchio Palace, the Ponte Vecchio bridge, to visit the Galleria dell’Accademia, where Michelangelo’s David is stored, to spend half a day in Galleria degli Uffizi and to climb the hill of San Miniato. You should also take the opportunity to get out the city for a few hours and to immerse yourself in the Chianti region’s landscapes. You can find more information on the places of interest in Florence here and here .
Every year on Easter Sunday Florentines gather in the Piazza del Duomo (English: the Cathedral Square) to take part in the exceptional ceremony, called ‘Scoppio del Carro’ (English: the Explosion of the Cart). On Easter morning, a long procession extends over the streets of Florence with soldiers, musicians, flag-throwers and the Easter carriage is drawn to the cathedral square by the impressive white oxen. The carriage is connected by a wire with the main altar located in the cathedral. Exactly at noon, amid the ‘Gloria’, the Archbishop of Florence ignites the dove-shaped torch (Italian: colombina) that shoots along the wire to the carriage, filled with plenty of fireworks. This way the explosion of the carriage begins – sparks and smoke spread in all directions, symbolising the distribution of the holy fire to the city and its people. It is said that if colombina does not reach the carriage or does not light the fireworks, it is an omen of bad luck.
The explosion of the carriage is not simply a tourist attraction. It is a tradition, counting perhaps thousands of years, dating back to the earliest times of the crusades. It is said that the first crusade was led by Pazzini di Ranieri de’ Pazzi. On July 15, 1099, the crusader army took Jerusalem after a lengthy siege. As a reward for such battle, Pazzi received a gift in return – three chips of stone from the Holy Sepulchre of Christ, which he brought back to Florence. For a long time kept by the Pazzi family, these stones were later used on Easter Saturday as a tool to kindle the new spark (Italian: fuoco novello). After the kindling of fire, it was distributed to Florentine families as the symbol of the Holy Spirit, the sign of Christ’s rebirth. This way the Pazzi family introduced this special city tradition and thus designed the first carriage that is called ‘Brindellone’ today. Without a doubt, the current carriage is not the way it was created hundred years ago by the Pazzi family, but the holy tomb stones are still stored in it even today.
After the Holy Mass, Italian families are having a solid lunch. You can only imagine how much and what kind of meals Italian grandmothers and mothers prepare! The lunch begins with appetizers: small pastry baskets with a variety of fillings and canapés. Then, snacks are served that include stuffed eggs or asparagus with fried eggs and Parmesan cheese. The first dish is Fettuccine with lamb sauce or traditional lasagna. And the second dish is strictly determined by Easter traditions – lamb in the oven. And if you still have some free space in your stomach after such lunch, you can try traditional desserts – colomba or colombina. Colomba – it is a dove-shaped cake. According to legends, the origins of colomba lay in the 6th century, when, during the siege of Pavia, Alboino sent his enemies a dove-shaped cake as a sign of peace. After the lunch, the little ones are usually rewarded with chocolate eggs.
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