Here it is a to do list you won’t want miss, for your Easter activities in Florence
strolling around amongst traditions, artisanship and sweets.
The blasting of the Cart.
It is a centuries-old tradition that has become the symbol of Easter in Florence. The blasting of the cart takes place in Piazza Duomo and it is a real show. For those who want to observe closely the spectacular event one can book a comfortable place in the stands set up for the occasion. On Easter Sunday the wagon, called “Brindellone”, is solemnly prepared by being decorated with a particular shape that recalls a small temple and is pulled by two oxen adorned with flowered garlands. The historical tradition dates back to 1099 when, during the first Crusade a nobleman, Pazzino, of the Pazzi household, brought with him three flints, which came from the Holy Sepulcher. With these stones, on Easter Sunday, a priest in the Duomo lights the Easter Candle that burns coal inside the wagon.
The procession begins at 10 a.m., with extras wearing historical clothing and flag-wavers up until they reach Piazza Duomo. Then, around 11 o’clock, the Bishop celebrating the Solemn Mass lights a sort of fuse that projects a dove-shaped rocket towards the cart, receiving a similar push to go back. The flight of the Dove must take place without any damage or accident. In fact, from this flight, from its interpretation, good harvests and a time of peace for the city can be foreseen.
In Oltrarno, at the discovery of the neighborhood.
Why not dedicate Easter day to discovering a Florentine neighborhood? Oltrarno and Santo Spirito. Cross the Santa Trinita Bridge, and you will end up in the small Piazza Frescobaldi, from which you can start your itinerary. As the toponym indicates, on the left side of the square one can find the magnificent Frescobaldi Palace, still belonging to the family that has been famous for a thousand-year history in the production of excellent wines. It is not the only noble palace. In Via di Santo Spirito there are austere facades of fifteenth-century buildings, alternated with artisan shops, through small streets that intertwine, with convents and shelters that have always made a very characteristic neighborhood, with Santo Spirito Church that serves as a point of reference. With its unmistakable facade designed by Brunelleschi, you can stop to admire Michelangelo’s Christ in the Sacristy and the side chapels dedicated to the powerful families of the Oltrarno to observe, among others, the spectacular Nerli Chapel, with the nativity of Filippino Lippi, one of the masters of the Renaissance.
During the period of Easter, one can find in Florence markets of all kinds. In Piazza Strozzi, Artour is set up, which is the market dedicated to high-quality craftsmanship. From March 31st to April 2nd, visitors can browse through the stands, where they can find special little silver jewels, or leather goods for an original Florentine gift or souvenir. Moreover, one could find fabrics in all colors, made of silk or cotton, including real pashminas or the ever-present straw hats, which are very refined for the summer. A tour in the heart of Renaissance Florence.
Santa Croce’s Fair.
In Santa Croce, as well, from March 31 to April 2 there will be a fair dedicated to craftsmanship especially focused on interior decorations or gardens. One could find here wood in all its makings, wrought iron, glass blowing, embossed and chiseled works on copper and silver trays, stone sculptures and many other objects, all finely worked by expert craftsmen.
Florentine Easter delights.
The paschal symbol is the egg, beginning and end, death and rebirth, which unites all of the Western cultures. The chocolate egg. Unfailing, it stands out in all the pastry shops. Throughout these years, products prepared in confectionery laboratories are introduced, and each store offers “its” eggs. For all tastes. Dark, milk, with hazelnuts, decorated with the classic flowers, and for those who want to surprise and make happy little ones (and why not, even the older ones), the surprise inside can be personalized. In recent years, the tradition of the Easter bunny, dear to the Nordic cultures, has also spread to Florence. All of the sudden, here are little chocolate animals, ready to be hidden, possibly in a garden with primroses and daisies.
This is the traditional dessert, which characterizes the festivity and is widespread throughout Italy. Pastry shops offer innumerable sweet colombe. Every pastry shop or bakery produces its colomba, and everyone has a secret recipe. It is a soft paste cake shaped like a dove, covered with a crunchy glaze enriched with whole almonds decorating the upper layer. Inevitable dessert can be served with an English custard.
Finally yet importantly, on Easter day, to enrich the memory of this day, around noon, do not miss the solemn and unique sound of the Cathedral bells that will echo in the Florentine sky.