Scoppio del Carro

Preparing to come to Italy in the fall, I did some research on what crazy events Florence might stage over the course of the academic year.  Among other various, small events, was this event called the “Scoppio del Carro”—the explosion of the cart.

Apparently, back in the Middle Ages, a man was dragging a cart of fireworks through Florence (why, we don’t know).  Through some vague mishap that was only appropriate for medieval times, the cart took fire and all of the fireworks promptly exploded.  The racket was heard all throughout Florence, but instead of being alarmed or reprimanding this vendor for his carelessness, the Florentines thought this was awesome, and have continued the tradition ever since.

            Now, on Easter morning, the Piazza del Duomo is stuffed with tourists anxiously awaiting the explosions.  The event begins with a parade and traditional Florentine dancing and flag throwing.  Near the end of the ceremony, the doors of the Duomo are opened, allowing the choral music to waft out like the smell of home cooking.  The priest, bishop, or cardinal (whomever is conducting mass) comes outside and blesses the spectators.  Then, once mass has ended, he lights the fuse of a firecracker dove, which shoots out of the Duomo’s doors, smacks into the cart, and sets it ablaze with pyrotechnics.  The explosion begins at 11am and ends at noon, wowing the claustrophobic crowd with lights and sounds.

Talk about going out with a bang.

Kathryn Herbert


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