The Scoppio del Carro, Easter Fireworks, in the Cathedral square

Every year, on Easter Sunday, Florence reenacts one of its most heartfelt traditions: the Scoppio del Carro! The origins of the festival take us back into the mists of crusading legend.

In the far distant year of 1097 when Pazzino dei Pazzi, who had participated in the crusade led by Godfrey of Bouillon, was the first to reach the summit of the walls of Jerusalem. For this act of valour he was, by Godfrey, rewarded with three stones from the Holy Sepulchure. On his return to his native Florence, the valorous warrior was regaled with honours and the three stones were used to light the holy fire which was then distributed to the people on the day of Easter. With the passage of time the pomp of the festival became ever more elaborate, and today consists in bulls pulling a grand carriage full of fireworks, known as the Brindellone, around the city to the area between the Baptistery and the Cathedral where, at the moment when the Resurrection is commemorated during the service, a firework in the shape of a white dove is launched from the Cathedral altar and hits the fireworks of the carriage, lighting them, and then returns to the altar. If all goes well, and the fireworks light, and the dove returns, one can hope the year’s harvest will be abundant.