One of Florence's most unique Easter traditions, Scoppio del carro or 'the explosion of the cart' is an event that has it's origin in the crusades.
The story goes that a Florentine man was the first to scale the walls of Jerusalem during the First Crusade, as a reward for his bravery he was given three flints from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, one of the most holy sites in Christendom.
He took these flints home with him to Florence where they were used to strike holy fire, which was carried through the city by men bearing torches at Easter, to symbolise the new life offered by Christs resurrection. This tradition later evolved into using the flints to light a candle in a large cart, and later, to filling a cart with fireworks and blowing it up.
The current cart has been in use for over 500 years! It is hauled by a team of white oxen festooned with garlands of the first flowers and herbs of spring, and escorted by 150 soldiers, musicians, and people in 15th century dress. The holy fire is lit at the Church of SS. Apostoli and then the procession moves on the Duomo. The cardinal of Florence then lights the cart from inside the cathedral, he lights a dove shaped rocket that flies down a wire to light the cart, there's then a fireworks display lasting around 20 minutes.
The 'holy fire' starts it's journey at the Church of SS. Apostoli,, where the flints are housed and is taken to the Duomo. So if you want to see the procession you should start at the Church of SS. Apostoli, but the fireworks take place outside the Duomo.
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