Scoppio Del Carro... Buona Pasqua!

Trip Start Apr 05, 2012
Trip End Apr 24, 2012

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Flag of Italy  , Tuscany,
Sunday, April 8, 2012

What a wonderful Pagan/Easter celebration. We got up early to pack the square in front of the Duomo with tens of thousands of Florentines to watch the Scoppio del Carro - literally the explosion of the cart.

Some Florentine named Pazzi was in the crusades waiting in the siege of Jerusalem. Well he got (take your pick) tired, bored, or whatever and stormed the wall which incited everyone else to follow him. This apparently broke the siege. So for his... foolhardiness, bravery or whatever, he was given three pieces of the sepulcher that are used to strike the holy flame every Easter. These are kept in the church Spirito Santo which supposedly goes back to Charlemagne, a couple blocks from our hotel.

Starting off to the west of the cathedral is a long procession of people dressed in medieval and renaissance outfits, drummers, flag throwers, military regiments, women of all castes, carts with flowers and eggs-all preceding the 40 foot tall 'cart' filled with fireworks drawn by two white oxen. Their procession ends in front of the Duomo where the flag throwers do a big presentation and modern workers, including a cherry picker, finish the setup of the cart.

One of the finishing pieces is to connect the wire from the alter where the holy flame is relit by another procession with the flints from Spirito Santo and at the appropriate time in the Easter mass a mechanical 'bird' flies from the holy flame down the wire to the cart and lights the fireworks and the flies back to the alter. If the bird does not make it back that means bad things for the year. The last time the bird did not make it back was 1966 and that was the year of the horrific flood. In addition, all the segments of the fireworks must also go off without a hitch to assure a good harvest.

I will say I was a little worried as even though it was sunny at 9 a.m., the angry clouds rolled in at about 10 and the skies opened with a drenching rain. Most people brought umbrellas which did a good job of covering everyone as packed as we were. Just before 11 the rain stopped and the rain stopped, everyone quickly stowed their umbrellas and the bird flew out on time and the cart exploded for a good 20 minutes to raucous applause.

I used the camera and Dennis used his iPhone to video parts of it, so I don't have many pictures to upload at this point. But there are many videos on YouTube in the mean time.

Che magnifico!
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Orli on

well, at least you didn't have an angry bird ;-)

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