AIFS Study Abroad Blog

Easter Sunday in Florence

The thought of spending holidays abroad can be daunting for students, but they quickly discover that seeing how another culture celebrates Easter or Holi or soccer (every soccer game is a holiday!) is one of the most enjoyable and interesting experiences. The AIFS Florence Blog posted about Easter in Florence and we we wish we were there!

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Italy is still a traditionally Catholic country and, therefore, Easter (Pasqua) means more than just fluffy bunnies and Easter Egg hunts. In fact, Easter Monday is called “Pasquetta” (little Easter) and is also a holiday.  The Italians usually use this day to spend time with their nearest and dearest, so expect things to be a bit on the quieter side.

The main event of a Florentine Easter is definitely the Scoppio del Carro, or Explosion of the Cart (and yes, you read that right, they blow up a cart with fireworks).  On the morning of Easter Sunday, the Piazza del Duomo becomes packed with Italians, tourists and Florentines who all come out to witness the fantastic fireworks display that happens when the Carro is ignited.  Dating back to the 12th century, the display is complete with a historical parade involving trumpeters, drummers and flag-throwers, all decked out in traditional medieval costumes.  The Carro is pulled by 4 enormous white oxen with garlands of flowers draped around their horns. The procession starts from Porta al Prato and eventually winds its way to the steps of the Duomo.  Once it arrives at the Duomo, a mechanical dove is lit by a priest and flies along a wire stretched from the altar to the cart outside, setting off an explosion of fireworks.  Legend has it that if all goes according to plan, then the year’s harvests will be plentiful!

Schedule of the day’s events:

8:00 AM – The Carro di Fuoco leaves the Piazzale della Porta al Prato, heading down Via il Prato, Borgo Ognissanti, Piazza Goldoni, Via della Vigna Nuova, Via Strozzi, Piazza della Repubblica and Via Roma to finish in Piazza del Duomo.

9:15 AM – A procession of Uffizi flag-throwers will leave the Palagio di Parte Guelfa (just behind the Piazza di Mercato Nuovo) and head down Via Pellicceria, ending up in Piazza della Repubblica where they put on an exhibition of flag-throwing and music.

10:00 AM – Arrival of the procession and Carro di Fuoco to the front of the Duomo.  Once the Carro has arrived, there is a lottery to determine the groups for the famous Calcio Storico football tournament this summer.

11:00 AM– The show begins, lasting about 20 minutes.

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So whether you’re studying in Florence or not, consider a visit to experience the traditions of the city!

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