If you happen to be in Florence for Easter you must participate at a 9 centuries old folk tradition, the Scoppio del Carro right in the heart of the center: Piazza Duomo!
Around 10 a.m. the there will be a parade passing through the center of Florence which accompanies a 30-foot tall, antique cart (called the “Brindellone“) from Porta al Prato (where it is housed all year long) to the Piazza del Duomo where the Scoppio del carro will happen!
Once the cart is in the center of the Piazza it will be loaded with fireworks and a wire, stretching to the high altar inside the cathedral, which is fitted with a mechanical dove (the “colombina“). At 11 a.m., the Cardinal of Florence lights a fuse in the Colombina inside the church with the Easter fire. This makes the Colombina speed through the church to the cart and which lights the fireworks.
During the explosion, the bells of the Campanile of Giotto ring so loudly that you can hear them throughout the city.
If the Colombina doesn’t stop on its way to the cart and the explosion of the cart is successful, tradition says there will be a good harvest, stable civic life, and good business. So the Florentines, who are very attached to this local tradition, keep their fingers crossed!!!
So if you plan on taking part at this incredible tradition, here is a few practical pieces of advice to better enjoy the Scoppio del Carro:
1) Before the manifestation, enjoy an Italian style breakfast (Cappuccino and Cornetto) at one of the cafès in Piazza della Repubblica or Piazza Signoria.
2) Florentines get up quite early to get the best spots possible on the Piazza, so sure to arrive at around 9 am. The wait is long, but worth it!
3) I suggest you stay on the Campanile of Giotto’s side. You will see better from that perspective.
4) After it will be difficult and long to get out of the crowd, don’t panic choose a close cafe, sit down and enjoy a fresh orange juice 🙂