Someone needs to remind me, at regular intervals, to write the blog posts I’ve already promised to write. Otherwise we’ll find ourselves in 2016 and I’ll be adding “Write Second Macaron Post” to my “30 before 30” list. And we wouldn’t want that, would we? That spot would be much better filled by, say, “Breed Pug-Poodle-Cross That Is Actually Cute”, or “Don’t Leave House Wearing Two Different Pairs of Shoes”*.
Because, you see, this isn’t the macaron post. Nor is it a Paris post, or an early-days-of-Florence post. Nope, this is a story from today, because I don’t think I should delay in writing an Easter post. I mean, Jesus didn’t keep everyone waiting, did he?
Easter in Florence Goes Bang, Moo, Crackle
In keeping with such gaudily-packaged Easter chocolate, Florence celebrates Easter Sunday in an ostentatious way. Called the Scoppio del Carro festival, Florence’s main Easter event takes place between the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore and the Battistero di San Giovanni.
But what is this event, pray tell? And what does Scoppio del Carro mean?
The answer to the latter is “Explosion of the Cart”, and I suppose that mostly explains the former, too. More explanatorially, early in the morning a procession leads a tall wooden cart, led by oxen, to the space in between the Cathedral and the Baptistry. At 11am, the church bells peal and “holy fire” is used to set off a whole bunch of fireworks around and on the wooden cart.
Of course, I should have known that arriving only 45 minutes early wouldn’t guarantee me the best view.
I was relating this story to P.PersuasivePilot (who features in an upcoming Paris post) on Skype today, and he interrupted to confirm whether I really said “fireworks” in the same sentence as “11am”.
Yes. And his scepticism was not, unfortunately, entirely unfounded:
So, you know, not the most visually impressive spectacle, but points for effort, Florence.
After this first lot of firecrackers, there passed about fifteen minutes of very noisy bangs and cracks, which suggested that the people closer to the front were seeing some ground-level action. We crowd-amidsters, however, contented ourselves with oohing at smoke:
And then the sight became even more complex, intricate, and awe-inspiring. So much to see! Where to turn? I don’t want to miss a thing! (Thank you, Aerospace.)
When the smoke cleared somewhat, we were treated to a bit of prettiness when the cart’s fireworks got going.
Lastly, the prongs atop the cart started spinning, letting out occasional pops and spurts. I started to feel embarrassed for Florence here, because clearly something had gone wrong and the prongs were meant to be firecrackering too.
More fool me. The prongs weren’t firecrackers but poles for… wait for it… flags that unfurled with (what else?) banging and crackling. The whole crowd gasped and clapped at this unfurling, me included… although in retrospect it wasn’t very exciting.
When I tried to leave, I got trapped on the other side of the Piazza del Duomo by a procession of what I assume were people (all I could see were the tops of brightly-coloured plumes of feathers, but I’ll spare you another crowd shot). When I tried to leave after that, I found myself with front-row viewing for the departure of the oxen-led cart (thus the moo-ing reference, although H.CarryOn will undoubtedly inform me that oxen don’t moo). I’ll spare you those photos too, though, because most were blurry, and in the ones that aren’t, the oxen can be seen to have very, very dirty bottoms.
And I wouldn’t want to put you off your coffee granita, would I?
So, parents? I forgive you for not sending chocolate to my Florence hotel so that I could have a proper Easter. Just make sure there’s a pony and an ice-cream maker waiting for me when I get home. Kthnxbai!
* I really have done this. I just thank the heavens I was driving to uni that day rather than catching the bus, for had I not spotted my feet upon adjusting the seat from “Dad” to “Hannah” dimensions, I probably would have been halfway through my Evelyn Waugh English tute before discovering the mistake.