Easter tradition in Florence – Scoppio del carro

Church, Cities, Easter, Events, tradition, Tuscany

The event ‘scoppio del carro’ on Easter Sunday in Florence, consists in a pyrotechnic tower placed on a cart,  called “the brindellone”, which is pulled by two pairs of oxen. The cart then goes through the streets of the historic center and placed between the Baptistery and the Cathedral.

More or less around 11,  the archbishop, from the altar of the Cathedral, lights a rocket (the dove, symbolising the Holy Spirit) with the sacred fire which, through  a rope mechanism runs through the entire central nave of the church and reaches the tower outside, triggering the fuse and setting off firecrackers and fireworks.

The event origins with Pazzino de’ Pazzi, commander of the 2500 Florentine soldiers, he was the first to enter Jerusalem, to climb its walls and to plant the Christian banner at the highest point.  Thanks to this valiant act, Pazzino received three splinters of siliceous stone from the Holy Sepulcher as a gift from the Commander General Goffedro IV of Bouillon.

Returning to Florence in 1101, Pazzino was received with great honors and popular jubilation.  He returned the stones to the Florentine authorities who placed them in a casket and entrusted them to the prelates of the church of San Maria Sopra Porta, later called San Biagio.  Thus began a tradition, already known in Jerusalem since the fourth century: the distribution to the people of the sacred fire lit in a brazier by means of the stones of the Holy Sepulcher.  Tradition resumed in Florence on Easter Saturday inside the cathedral.

Via Crucis Rom Lazio Italien 2019

Florence Tuscany    ( fotos © fotolia.com) 

Via Crucis Karfreitag Ostern Barile Basilikata

The Brindellone Florence    (fotos © pixabay.com) 

Via Crucis Rom Lazio Italien 2019

Duomo of Florence   (fotos © fotolia.com) 

In the thirteenth century the Pazzi, in order to keep alive the memory of their ancestor, built a traveling wagon, richly decorated, which on Holy Saturday every year carried the fire of the sacred stones around the city, allowing citizens who could not  take part in the ceremony in the cathedral to rush to the passage to light the candles and candles that would be used, in turn, to set fire to one’s own home to be kept strictly alive for the entire duration of Easter.  The religious significance of the act combined the mystical value of the fire that springs from the stone with the resurrection of Christ from the tomb.


 The organisation of the event by the Pazzi was repeated every year in the following centuries, only interrupted in 1478 following the conspiracy hatched by the family against the Medici.  The consuls of the Art of Calimala then replaced the Pazzi for about sixteen years, after which, thanks to the expulsion of the Medici and the advent of Savonarola, the noble Florentine family resumed organising the ancient custom directly.


 The Medici returned in 1512, the Pazzi, again in the favour of the people, continued to manage the Scoppio del Carro and, in 1515, probably thanks to a suggestion of the rival family, they modified the ceremonial, in particular the mobility of the chariot, which  as an itinerant he would have kept a fixed position in front of the Baptistery in order to symbolically distribute the sacred fire to all citizens wherever they were.


 In the seventeenth century the Pazzi had a three-storey “triumphal chariot” built, extremely solid and imposing, more suitable for its intended use.  Incredible to say, but it is the same current wagon suitably restored.

 The organisation of the Scoppio del Carro was maintained by the Pazzi family until 1859, when the main branch of the family died out.  From that date onwards, the Municipality of Florence is responsible for the whole event.


Via Crucis Rom Lazio Italien 2019

Fireworks „scoppio del carro“ Florence  (fotos  © Pecold / Shutterstock.com) 


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