History of Italian Fireworks

Italians love all things beautiful – its part of their DNA, but never more so that with Fireworks which also reflect the Italian art of sheer extravagance. Most of the display fireworks seen around this beautiful country are predominantly silver and gold with a very small amount of colour.

Following the ‘accidental’ discovery of black powder in 10th century China, it wasn’t very long until beautiful fireworks were making their way over to Europe, thanks mainly to the exploits of the Mongolian Army. History says that in the mid 13th century, the Mongol leader Ghengis Khan sent his leaders Subutai and Batu Khan to take on the army of Hungary which were supported by armed forces from Germany, Poland and the former Czechoslovakia in a bloody battle which was eventually won by the Mongol army with their ‘fire rats’ and ‘dragon carts’ which both depended heavily on explosives.

There are various ‘historical documents’ that say that Marco Polo, the Italian merchant traveller and explorer, brought the first fireworks into Italy in the late 13th century. However, it was almost 50 years after the death of Marco Polo that the first recorded ‘fireworks display’ was detailed in 1379 in Vincenza where ‘winged creatures’ emitting sparks as they ran along a series of ropes. Later, they created castles, animals and other structures using wood and set the fireworks onto them.

Through the next couple of centuries, there were only around 60/70 people across Europe who had the expertise to put on displays. One such team were the Rugieri Brothers. In 1740, King Louis XV of France brought the brothers from Italy to his magnificent Palace in Versailles to help in the celebrations of the wedding of his grandson Louis XVI to Marie Antoinette. He ordered the creation of a truly legendary display ever seen throughout the Baroque Period. In May 1770, the skies over Versailles were lit up with 20,000 rockets and 6,000 mortars creating bursts of up to 300 metres.

The simple fascination with fireworks has continued throughout the years with Italian flair being at the heart of some of the biggest and best display companies in the World and they remain proud of their heritage which opened up the field of pyrotechnics to the rest of Europe. It is not therefore unusual to learn that some of the biggest are the likes of Parente, Grucci, Zambelli, Fazzoni, Rozzi, Cartiano and de Sousa, all Italian or Italian-American.

Italian Fireworks families are specialist designers and display professionals who still take inspiration from the displays of years gone by from historical data and drawings from the 16th to the 18th Century. However, today, with technology advancing at an astounding rate, they can still use the old school thinking and apply it to today’s display requirements as however you look at it, there has been very little change in the last couple of hundred years in how fireworks are made and designed.

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… Fantasy in the sky

Children and adults alike from all corners of the World hold a huge fascination for fireworks and of course all things Disney so it comes as no surprise that almost every night of the year, Walt Disney World resorts hold a fireworks display over the iconic Cinderella’s Castle.

With the addition of some clever lighting and HUGE fireworks lighting the night sky, the magic and fantasy are brought to life. Effects include bright pearls, huge chrysanthemums, horse’s tails, stars, palms and brocades to name a few in this wonderful 9-minute display which is choreographed alongside some of the most iconic musical scores in the World and it just goes to prove that when you wish for stars, you shall see them.

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Fireworks at Chinese new year 2008

The Chinese New Year 2008 is the Year of the Rat and in China is often referred to as the Spring Festival and signifies the beginning of the Chinese Calendar.

It is the longest festival in the Chinese calendar and the celebration is an opportunity for friends and family to get together for a huge banquet meal.

All factories cease production during this time to enable families to prepare for the festival. With 1.3 billion people living in China and visitor numbers reaching into the tens of millions it is some party.

Legend has it that in ancient times, Buddha asked all the animals to meet him on the eve of the Chinese new year and only 12 arrived so he named a year after every one of them.

Red is a colour which features widely in celebrations as it is said to symbolize fire which is said to frighten away bad luck and bad spirits. The native’s wear red and their homes are widely decorated in red too with poems displayed all around.

One of the highlights of the New Year celebrations is the dragon dance. The ‘dragon’ has a huge head and the tail can reach up to a hundred feet long. A dragon is typically made from silk, paper and bamboo in keeping with ancient tradition.

Of course, there are also fireworks EVERYWHERE and they go on until the wee small hours. They favour the VERY loud types as again, they were used in ancient China to frighten away evil spirits.

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