Easter in Florence

What have fireworks got to do with Easter? The ‘Scoppio del Carro’ or ‘Explosion of the Cart’ is a tradition that dates back to the Crusades and takes place every Easter Sunday at noon at the Piazza del Duomo. Pazzino de 'Pazzi returned to Florence in 1101, after hoisting the Christian banner on the walls of Jerusalem. In return he received three flints from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, used since then to light the holy fire, symbol of the Resurrection.

In the sixteenth century the festival took its present form. A special cart is loaded with fireworks in front of the Duomo. A wire, fitted with a mechanical dove (the "columbina"), is stretching to the high altar inside the cathedral. At the singing of the Gloria in excelsis Deo during Easter Mass, the cardinal of Florence lights a fuse in the columbina with the Easter fire. It speeds through the church to ignite the firework in the cart outside. The cart is pulled by a couple of oxen, decorated for the occasion.