Back when I lived in Florence, I experienced the spectacle of Scoppio del Carro (Explosion of the Cart) one fine Easter morning. This centuries-old tradition of is said to have its origins in the Crusades. Thousands now cram Piazza del Duomo for the event.
As the bells peal in Giotto’s bell tower, a rocket in the form of a mechanical colomba (dove), lit by the Archbishop, flies down a wire from the high altar of Santa Maria del Fiore (the Duomo) to the 30-foot-tall 500-year-old cart outside, setting off the fireworks between the main door of the Duomo and the Baptistery.
Because it’s daylight, there’s far more smoke than sparkling lights. I just remember being thankful that
no one caught on fire. Spectators crush up really close to the cart to capture images.
The part I liked most were the chalk-white Chianina oxen with crowns of spring blooms, who pulled the cart through the city streets. Sadly, I don’t have any photos from my viewing so I googled to find some.
I discovered a photo of the Chianina, a perfect crystallization of my recollection of these gentle giants, that led me to an Easter post on My Tuscan Journal, written by Lisa Brancatisano, an Italo-Australian who now lives in Tuscany. Along with a sweet personal report of her father visiting from Melbourne, she shares the tradition of the Scoppio del Carro in words and photos.
Grazie Lisa, e Buona Pasqua a te.
Claire McCrea says
I’ll never forget spending Easter in Venice! The bells from all the church towers were ringing & the pastry & sweet shop windows were filled with beautifully wrapped chocolate chickens, not bunnies.
What a lovely memory. I’ve seen those huge mylar-wrapped chocolate eggs in Italy but not the chocolate chicks.
Walter Sanders says
I remember my first viewing of the Scoppio del Carro in 1972. So much fun—especially for kids and the young of heart. The dove descended down the wire and detonated the cart. I remember thinking “Ah, so perhaps that’s how New Yorkers learned to drop the crystal ball on New Year’s Eve!”