Easter Sunday is celebrated with various parades and events throughout all of Italy, but one of the most memorable is surely the Scoppio del Carro in Florence. Literally, the “explosion of the cart”, it’s a folk tradition of Florence from the era of the First Crusade, when supposedly, a Florentine was the first man through the breach in the sacking of Jerusalem.
When the hero returned, he used stone fragments from the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem to start a Sacred Fire that he then paraded through the city in a beautiful chariot. Today this Italian festival reenacts the scene in its entirety. On Easter Sunday a large wagon filled with fireworks departs from Porta al Prato, hauled by a team of white oxen with soldiers, musicians, and others following in 15th-century costumes.
A fire is started from the historic stone and then used to light a string that leads to the cart outside, at the same moment Giotto’s belltower bells ring out. The entire firework show usually lasts about 20 minutes and is said to bring good luck!