Flashback one year ago today… Hard to imagine that I was following two festively attired white oxen with golden horns pulling a wooden cart through the narrow uneven streets of centro Firenze.
The streets were tightly packed with revelers and worshippers alike. Even the caribineri (policemen) were in a light mood, holding the crowds back from the approaching oxen and cart. Despite the rainy cold weather, there was an air of excitement as the oxen plodded down the streets toward Piazza del Duomo for the kick off of the ancient ceremony, Lo Scoppio del Carro, the Explosion of the Cart.
Once the oxen reach Piazza del Duomo, the cart is detached. The ancient cart, outfitted with fireworks and other pyrotechnic displays, is ignited by a mechanical dove that flies on a wire from inside of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, also called il Duomo. The sound of the fireworks is deafening and smoke fills the air but somehow the oxen remain calm. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7FZ-oYkLpdU
Dating back to the Crusade of 1099, the Florentines believed that if the cart burns right down then their lives will be enriched and their harvest would be plentiful. Lighting up their lives with the sacred fire, the Florentines have kept their tradition and their rituals alive to this day.
The music and pageantry wove through the streets from Piazza del Duomo to the Arno River. I felt as if I had stepped back in time watching the procession of drummers and flag throwers passing by in the piazze (town squares).
Easter Sunday is a good day to visit the city art museums or to just sit at an outdoor restaurant with a fine glass of Chianti Classico and watch the world walk by.
At long last, one of dreams on my Bucket List had been fulfilled. I would return to Firenze again for Lo Scoppio del Carro in a heartbeat. The city was particularly vibrant and alive that day, full of ancient tradition and pageantry, and happily, I was there to take it all in!