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Traditions, art and nature

Easter in Florence is a greatly fascinating time for the Tuscan capital, a time when tradition and culture blend in a unique fête that tourists and citizens alike just can’t miss.

A string of events and historical re-enactments of ancient traditions take place in Florence at Easter time, giving you the perfect opportunity to discover the most authentic side of Florence. The most important event is Easter Sunday, when the Scoppio del Carro (the explosion of the cart) takes place in front of the Duomo, according to a tradition that has been staged without alterations for 350 years. This Florentine celebration dates as far back as the first crusade, which was launched in order to free the Holy Sepulchre from the clutches of the infidels.

The event is in fact a commemoration of the return of Florentine captain Pazzino dei Pazzi from Jerusalem. On his journey back he brought with him three flakes of stone from the Holy Sepulchre of Christ. The three stones were used to spark a ‘new’ fire which was distributed to families after the blessing so that they could rekindle their house fires.

This is how the custom of handing out the ‘sacred fire’ to the clergy and people as a sign of the Resurrection of Christ became popular. It was the Pazzi family who built the monumental Carro di Fuoco (the cart of fire) – affectionately dubbed Brindellone by the Florentines – setting the stage for the ceremony as we know it today. On Easter morning, escorted by 150 armed men, musicians and flag throwers from the historical parade group of the Republic of Florence, the Brindellone starts off at piazzale del Prato, pulled by two white oxen embellished with flowers, and reaches Piazza del Duomo, between the Baptistery and the Cathedral. At 11 am the colombina, a flare in the shape of a dove that symbolises the Holy Spirit, flies outside the cathedral and sets fire to the cart, igniting a string of fireworks which make for an extraordinary spectacle.

On Easter Sunday museums will be open and free of charge, following an initiative that has been launched across the country and which has proven very popular. Entrance to the Uffizi gallery will be free as well as to other museums such as the Bargello, Palazzo Pitti and Boboli Gardens. Additionally, during the Easter holidays the Musei Civici Fiorentini, which include the museum of Palazzo Vecchio, are hosting a wealth of tours, routes and activities for adults and families with children of all ages.