Easter in Italy is not a short celebration but rather, celebrated over five days starting the Thursday before Easter Sunday and finishing the following Monday.
The first of the celebrations, starting on Holy Thursday, will have churches opening their doors and welcoming followers to visit their altars. If you are walking around on Good Friday or the Saturday before Easter, you may catch a glimpse of one of the many religious processions that parade through the city centers of many towns in Tuscany.
On Easter Sunday, Florence celebrates with the Scoppio del Carro, or the Explosion of the Cart, a tradition dating back to the Middle Ages. On the morning the 30-foot-tall (9.1 m) antique cart called Brindellone in use for over 500 years moves from the Porta al Prato to the Piazza del Duomo. It is hauled by a team of white oxen festooned with garlands of the first flowers and herbs of spring, the cart is escorted by 150 soldiers, musicians, and people in 15th century dress.
Around 11am, as part of the Easter Mass being celebrated in the Cathedral, the Archbishop of Florence at the altar lights the "Colombina", a rocket shaped like a dove and which symbolizes the Holy Spirit, and this running along a cable that has been attached in the meantime to the Brindellone will hit it, setting off the fireworks mounted on top it. Therein is the Explosion of the Cart you've been hearing about! It is a great event to witness, both for visitors as for Florentines, who wait to see the return of the Colombina back to the altar inside the Duomo. According to tradition, if the Colombina returns all the way back to the altar the year will be positive.
During all of these stages, the bells of Giotto's campanile ring out. The complex fireworks show that follows lasts about 20 minutes.
To really know a country or a city, you have to get in touch with its culinary tradition, don't you agree?
The Mass is the time to bring the boiled eggs (better if decorated) to the church to receive the holy touch, before to be eaten for example sliced into a simple brodo with tortellini. Chocolate eggs can be brought too, to join the Cristian tradition. The other cake you have absolutely to try is the Colomba, a leavened cake shaped like a dove with candied fruit inside and covered with almonds and icing on top.
During the lunch, you can learn how to play the boiled eggs battle. To be part of it, let us shop for your a special basket of sweets and surprises. Order it here in few minutes.
The day after Easter is called ‘Pasquetta’ and in Italy it's holiday too. We generally do the “gita fuori porta” – day trip to the beach of Versilia (Viareggio, Lido di Camaiore) or in the Siena countryside, all together around a table for the first outside lunch of the season. Check the section Travel Services to have some ideas for a day trip from Florence.
Italians usually enjoy a picnic with family or friends outdoors with typical food of the season such as pecorino cheese, fresh fava beans, olives and red wine. You can easily order it here and have your own leisurely picnic alongside the locals at one of the many parks in Florence, such as at Le Cascine. If you want to visit the main museums in Florence on these days, there is no problem as many stay open for both Easter Sunday and announce special openings for Pasquetta (if they are normally closed on Mondays).