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EASTER IN TUSCANY - FLORENCE
There are several traditions and events in Florence, during the Easter holidays. The main important event is "the scoppio del carro" (=the explosion of the Cart). This is one of the oldest traditions in the culture of Florence. as the ceremony goes back to the First Crusade.
In 1097, under the command of Goffredo di Buglione, the crusaders departed for Palestine and in the summer of 1099 laid siege to and sacked Jerusalem. According to tradition, it was the Florentine Pazzino de/’ Pazzi who scaled the walls of the Holy City first. For this act of courage, Goffredo di Buglione gave him three shards of the Holy Sepulcher when he returned to Florence. He later donated them to the city in a grand celebration, and they are now preserved in the church of the Holy Apostles.
Historians tell us that after the liberation of Jerusalem, on the day of Holy Saturday, the crusaders gathered in the Church of the Resurrection and gave everyone present holy fire, the symbol of purification. This ceremony was the origin of the Easter tradition of giving out holy fire to the people of Florence. With the passing of time the planning of the festival became increasingly articulated, to the point that the use of a cart to transport the holy fire was introduced, with a tripod full of burning coal.
Today the cart of Easter fire, pulled by oxen and escorted by 150 soldiers, musicians, and flag-bearers of historic soccer, starts from Piazzale del Prato and arrives in Piazza del Duomo. At this point a metal wire unites the cart to the top of a wood column placed in the center of the choir. In the meantime, a procession begins from the church of the Holy Apostles led by the Gonfalone of Florence and flag-bearers of the Pazzi family, with priests and city officials. At 11.00, to the sounds of “Gloria in excelsis Deo,” the fuse of a rocket is lit and it flies, whistling, to set aligtht the fireworks in the cart. According to tradition, if the flight of the rocket is perfect, it will be a positive year for Florence.