Tag Archives: explosion of the cart



Easter 2019 is almost upon us and as here in the UK we celebrate with Egg hunts, chocolate and the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, in Florence, they celebrate a little differently…… with fireworks!!

Now one of Europe’s grandest Easter spectacles, the ceremony dates to the time of the crusades and celebrates the brave deed by Florentine Pazzino. According to the local tradition, Pazzino was the first to climb the walls of Jerusalem and raise the Christian banner above the holy city in July 1099. This brave deed won him respect among his comrades and his commander and he was rewarded with two shards of stone from the Holy Sepulchre. These shards were later used to start an annual “Holy Fire” during Holy Week, this ritual fire would be carried through the city as a religious relic.

Scoppio del Carro

From then on started the tradition of the scoppio de carro (explosion of the cart) and by the middle ages where the flame was carried by a single cart. By the 15th century, this has grown into the fantastic structure that you will see today and is now pulled by white oxen dressed in flowers and foliage from the first of the spring plants. Accompanying the cart, a procession of Florentines officials, clergy, drummers, flag throwers and a marching band all dressed in historical costumes. The procession begins at the Porto al Prato and then moves onto to the main stage of Piazza del Duomo where all the action happens.

Just before 11am during mass in the Duomo the bells ring out from the church for 10 minutes solid. After this time a rocket shaped as the dove of peace is lit and sent on its flight from the altar out into the square. As the holy fire of the dove hits its mark on the cart, the gunpowder loaded cart is set alight and smoke billows and flashes of light and sparks begin to erupt from inside. the anticipation of the crowd that has gathered outside builds as the dove has to complete its journey both ways smoothly to ensure a good omen and ensures a good crop for the season.

The fireworks blast out for over 20 minutes producing a magnificent display, if you fancy celebrating Easter differently then head along to the Scoppio del Carro, you won’t be disappointed.


Scoppio del carro, explosion of the cart

Easter is almost with us, what do you do if you are in Florence, Italy, want fireworks and want traditional entertainment and solemnity with it? Simple, the Scoppio del carro has it all!!

The Scoppio del carro or Explosion of the cart is a great old folk tradition for the city of Florence. Every Easter a cart loaded with fireworks is paraded through the town then ceremoniously ignited by a rocket on a wire to provide a spectacle, fulfilment of a pagan ritual and a great tourist attraction, not necessarily in that order.

This ceremony dates back to the time of the Crusades and celebrates the brave exploits of one warrior, a man called Pazzino de’Pazzi this Florentine is revered for being the first man to climb the walls of Jerusalem in July of 1099. This brave deed won him the respect of his comrades and his commander and he was awarded two shards of stone from the Holy Sepulchre, shards which were later used to start an annual “holy fire” during Holy Week. This ritual fire used to be carried through the city as a religious relic.

So started the tradition of Scoppio del carro, by the middle ages the flame was carried in a simple carriage or carro. By the 15th century this had evolved into the towering 30 foot tall structure that is still used today. Traditionally it is pulled by white oxen which are covered in flowers and foliage from the first spring plants and accompanied by soldiers, musicians and fancy folk in period dress. The procession starts at the Porta al Prato (door of the Pratt?) and moves to the Piazza del Duomo. That’s where the action is.

= Italy Florence Firenze = Scoppio del Carro スコッピオ・デル・カッロ祭

Now onto the good part,

The antique Cart is loaded up with fireworks and pyrotechnics and after being paraded through the streets makes its way to the cathedral square. A thin wire is stretched up to the high altar inside the cathedral. The bells of the Giottos campanile ring out the whole time, and at the appointed moment, the cardinal of Florence lights the rocket head (often called a dove or “columbina”, but in the UK we would call it a pigeon, that shows you the Italians have got class, what we call a pigeon, they call a dove) with the holy fire from the stones. The dove shoots with holy fire to the cart piled high with fireworks, the cart ignites and wheels spin, flares flare, and candles, well, hmm candle. The crowd cheers and another good harvest (pagan again) is assured and good fortune and blessings are upon Florence. The Dove shoots back into the church, presumably to be extinguished by someone distinguished.

Firenze - scoppio del carro

And the fireworks blast out, a 20-minute display follows and is enjoyed by all. So if you are in Florence, Italy this Easter and are looking for a fireworks display with a difference. Head along to the Scoppion del carro, you will not be disappointed.

Firenze - scoppio del carro

Want to learn about other traditional uses of fireworks throughout the world? No problem, Epic Fireworks have got it covered at our Fireworks Learning Centre