A Florence Easter Guide, 2023

Lo Scoppio del Carro, Florence, takes place annually on Easter Sunday

Good Friday, April 7:

ORCHESTRA DELLA TOSCANA EASTER CONCERT.  Teatro Verdi, Florence.  9 pm.  Conducted by Alevtina Ioffe, the musicians of the Orchestra della Toscana and guest soloist Anna Tifu (violin) will interpret a varied program.  The compositions include Brahm’s concerto for violin and orchestra op. 77, Tchaikovsky’s Orchestral Suite no. 4 Mozartiana, which was composed as a tribute to Mozart, and Dvorak’s Czech Suite, op. 44.

HISTORICAL PROCESSION AND REENACTMENT OF THE PASSION OF CHRIST. Grassina. 9 pm. Bus 31 from San MarcoTickets can be purchased at the event at eight different kiosks: admission ranges from €5 to €15 for seats at Calvary scene.  In case of rain, the event will take place on Monday, April 10.

The streets of Grassina will be transformed into the avenues and alleys of Jerusalem as 500 participants in historic costume represent the Romans, Pontius Pilate, centurions and soldiers, and the Jews, King Herod, Pharisees, priests and local inhabitants. The anguished Christ, as well as the two thieves who were crucified alongside him, can be seen in the procession as it moves towards a nearby hill crowned with olive trees and oaks, Golgotha.

Here at Calvary hill, the reenactment of the birth and scenes from the life of Christ are portrayed, ending with the Crucifixion.  The Passion Play’s highlight is reached with the fusion between the parade and the scenes.  This Good Friday pageant, accompanied by color,

Easter Sunday, April 9:  SCOPPIO DEL CARRO, THE EXPLOSION OF THE CART. Porta a Prato and Piazza del Duomo. 8:15 – 11:30 am.  Free admission.

Be sure to arrive early to find a place (standing room only) in piazza del Duomo to witness Florence’s time honored Easter tradition, Lo Scoppio del Carro.

As a participant of an 11th century Crusade, Florentine Pazzino di Pazzi was the first soldier to scale the walls of Jerusalem and was rewarded with three flint stones from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.  At 8 am at Porta al Prato, a priest rubs Pazzi’s three flints together to light the Easter candle, which is used to light coals placed in a cart.  White, flower-garlanded oxen transport the vehicle, called the Brindellone, to Piazza del Duomo.  A procession of soldiers, city officials and musicians in medieval clothing lead the way, stopping in piazza Repubblica at 9 am for a show of live music and flag-throwing before arriving at the Cathedral (9:30 am).

During Easter mass, about 11 am, the Cardinal utilizes the flame from the coals to set off a mechanical dove from the cathedral’s altar.  The bird flies down a wire with the aim of striking the cart to ignite a spectacular firework show believed to forecast a prosperous year and a good harvest — lo scoppio del carro — for the cheering crowd in the square.  If the dove misses the target, it is taken as a bad omen.

While most museums are normally closed during the Easter holidays, some Florence galleries, alongside the state-run sites, will be open during Easter Sunday, including the church and museum of Santa Maria Novella (1 – 5:30 pm) with free admission.