Easter Traditions and Celebrations in Italy
In 2020, Easter Sunday is on April 12
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. It starts with a wide range of religious and folkloric events then ends with colorfully wrapped chocolate eggs with hidden surprises and picnics in the countryside. There is a wide range of things to do in Florence on Easter Sunday and Monday as well as in the surrounding areas.
Easter in Tuscany for many signals the beginning of spring, with its colorful blossoms and mild temperatures. The event, which varies every year according to the Christian calendar (falling anywhere between the 22nd of March and the 25th of April), is also synonymous with parades recreating events from the Crusades, revocations of religious events, elaborate floral decorations in churches like that in San Casciano and many folkloric festivals.
The first of the Easter celebrations, starting on Holy Thursday, will have churches opening their doors and welcoming followers to visit their altars which are elaborately decorated with flowers meant to pay respect to Jesus during his time of death and to celebrate His rebirth.
Since Italy is a Catholic country, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that almost every city and town has its own traditions, right down to the smallest on the map. However, we would like to point out a few of the more “spectacular” shows that you can watch while in Tuscany for Easter.
Attend the commemoration of the Passion of Christ and the Adoration of the Cross at Florence’s Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore during the evening. The annual Good Friday Procession, involving hundreds of people dressed in costumes to commemorate the Passion of Christ is held in Grassina and other localities within a short distance from Florence.
Visit some of the famous Florentine museums, including the Uffizi and the Accademia Galleries, the Palazzo Vecchio and the Palazzo Pitti is standard. You may also attend the vigil of the Holy Night of Easter at the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore at about 10 pm.
Shopping for jewellery, clothing, leather goods, souvenirs and food items at the many markets is popular. These include the San Lorenzo Market and the Mercado Central and visiting the Via Tornabuoni for designer stores and boutiques.
The highlight of the Easter events is the traditional ceremony called the “Scoppio del Carro” or the Explosion of the Cart. This is a sign of the success of the year’s harvest and involves a colourful and spectacular celebration held Easter morning, beginning with the Easter mass at the Santi Apostoli Church at 11 am. An hour earlier at the Piazza del Duomo square, a decorated cart is loaded with fireworks and is pulled by white oxen around the city in a procession accompanied by musicians and city leaders in costumes. Upon reaching the Piazza del Duomo, at about 12 noon, the dove-shaped rocket known as the “Colombina”, which is lit by the archbishop during Easter mass, flies out from the Duomo and lights the cart, setting off the fireworks and explosions to the loud cheers of the crowd.
Visiting some of the museums is an option and you may see the world’s largest crystal exhibition at La Specola Museum or visit the Boboli or the Barbdini Gardens. A big picnic with family and friends at the beautiful Florentine parks or countryside is also popular. The meal usually involves typical Easter foods such as eggs, artichokes, roasted lamb, sweet breads called “Colomba” and pastries.
Whether you are coming to Tuscany and Florence specifically to enjoy the Easter festivities or whether you choose this period for the promise of spring and blossoming climate, we wish you happy travels!
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