This brief guide to the Florentine Easter traditions provides suggestions to the most popular events and activities happening in Florence for Easter 2014.
Also, at the end of this guide is a brief history of Easter and its meaning to various religions.
- Holy Thursday, April 17, 2014
Visit to the Sepolcri (Sepulchres) in various churches in Florence. The term sepolcro is used to indicate what should be more properly defined as an altar or a chapel of repose, the space of the church that serves to consacrate the Eucharistic species and hold them until the afternoon of Good Friday, when they will be distributed to the observants during sacramental communion.
Observants or even tourists can enter the churches between Thursday evening and Friday morning to make a brief adoration in front of the repository. In the churches they will find a solemn exposition of rich floral compositions consisting of vetch and wheat mixed with seasonal flowers and plants, and functioning to beautify the churches and symbolize Jesus’ transition from death to rebirth. Free admission.
- Good Friday, April 18, 2014
Uffizi & Accademia Tour in One Day organized by Florence Inferno and ADAGIO con BRIO. A fascinating walking tour occuring in the afternoon to avoid the crowds of the two most famous museums in Florence: the Uffizi Gallery and the Accademia Gallery. An experienced guide fluent in the English language will ensure that you experience the best that each gallery has to offer by providing an historical and artistic path among each of its astonishing masterpieces. Starting at 2 p.m. Tour price: € 75 per person.
Info and booking: http://www.florenceinferno.com/uffizi-and-accademia-tour/
Easter Passion Play in Grassina, a town located 15 minutes south of Florence by car or bus n. 31 from Florence’s city center. This annual Passion Play consists of four hundred town residents faithfully recreating New Testament episodes, culminating in the Crucifixion. The Passion Play begins in two different locations: while a procession of people dressed as Galileans and Romans from 2,000 years ago winds its way along the streets of Grassina, a succession of scenes from the life of Christ, accompanied by narration and classical music, takes place on a nearby hill. The crowd arrives there just in time to witness Christ condemned to death and thereby becoming part of the drama. This deeply moving ritual has been re-enacted in Grassina on and off for the past 300 years.
Starting at 9 p.m. Tickets: € 15 (bleacher seats), € 12 (standing).
Info and booking: +39055646051; http://www.rievstoricagrassina.it
- Holy Saturday, April 19, 2014
The Florence Photography Adventure Tour organized by Florence Inferno and ADAGIO con BRIO. Discover Florence with your camera and with a professional photography teacher and a great Florentine guide at your side. Photography workshop & tour: 1-hour class + lunch break + 4-hour photography tour. Start at 12 p.m. Tour price: € 139 per person.
Info and booking: http://www.florenceinferno.com/photography-workshop/
- Easter Sunday, April 20, 2014
Scoppio del Carro (explosion of the cart) in front of Basilica di S. Maria del Fiore.
Florence celebrates Easter Sunday every year in a very special way: the annual explosion of the cart. For over 350 years the Easter celebration in Florence has included this ritual in which an elaborate wagon, a structure built in 1622 and standing two to three stories high, is dragged throughout Florence behind a fleet of white, garlanded oxen. The pageantry ends in front of the Basilica di S. Maria del Fiore, where Mass is held. During the midday service, a holy fire is stoked by ancient stone chips from the Holy Sepulcher, and the Archbishop lights a dove–shaped rocket that travels down a wire and collides with the cart in the square, setting off spectacular fireworks and explosions to the cheers of everyone. A big bang ensures a good harvest, and a parade in medieval costume follows.
Procession starts around 10 a.m., explosion around 11 a.m. Free admission.
Info: +39055290832; firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunset Trip from Florence to Fiesole in the Tuscany Hills organised by Florence Inferno and ADAGIO con BRIO. A sunset trip from Florence to Fiesole, a small village situated in the hills of Tuscany. It is from this settlement that the City of Florence is believed to have originated. Enjoy scenic routes, see breathtaking panoramas, visit Fiesole’s Abbey and Roman Amphitheatre, and taste delicious local wine and food. The tour starts at 4:30 p.m. Tour price: € 45 per person.
Info and booking: http://www.florenceinferno.com/day-trip-to-fiesole/
- Easter Monday, April 21, 2014
Easter Monday in Italy is traditionally called Pasquetta and commemorates Jesus meeting with his disciples on the day after he was resurrected, as described in the Bible.
It is a day of celebration that is usually spent with family or friends at a traditional outing or picnic, picnic on the grass, outdoor activities, or during a short vacation to the beach or lake.
If you are in Florence we suggest that you have a typical Italian Easter lunch (comprised of hard boiled eggs, various salumi and cheeses, baked pasta, pizza piena, chocolate eggs) on the grass of Cascine Park, at Anconella Park, or in the public garden on via Faentina n.145, commonly known as the Pettini-Burresi area.
If you prefer to visit the historic center of the city we recommend The Florence Inferno Tour organized by Florence Inferno and ADAGIO con BRIO. A full-day Florence walking tour inspired by Dan Brown’s latest novel Inferno. Enter some of the most amazing, mysterious, and famous places in Florence.
Starting at 9.15 a.m. Tour price: € 75 per person.
Info and booking : http://www.florenceinferno.com/guided-tour/
More about Easter in Italy
Easter: its meaning for the Christian and Jewish religion
Easter, or Pasqua in Italian, is a festive holiday celebrated throughout Italy. Easter Day commemorates the resurrection of Jesus Christ, as written in the New Testament of the Christian Bible, on the third day after his crucifixion at Calvary. In Christianity Easter symbolizes mankind’s redemption from sin and death.
Easter has several names, which differ depending on the language; however, most are derived from Greek and Latin pascha, a Greek transliteration of the Aramaic word Pesach, known in English as Passover.
For the Jewish people Passover is a festivity celebrating their liberation over 3,300 years ago by God from slavery in ancient Egypt, which was ruled by the Pharaohs, and their birth as a nation under the leadership of Moses.
Before Easter: the tradition
Christian Easter is preceded by Quaresima (Lent), a forty-day period of fasting, prayer, and penance. The last week of Lent is called Settimana Santa (Holy Week) and contains the days of the Easter Triduum, including Maundy Thursday (also known as Giovedì Santo – Holy Thursday), commemorating L’Ultima Cena (the Last Supper) and its preceding foot washing, as well as Venerdì Santo (Good Friday), commemorating the crucifixion and death of Jesus. Easter is followed by a fifty-day period called Eastertide, or the Easter Season, ending with Pentecost Sunday.
Easter is a moveable feast, meaning that it is not fixed according to the civic calendar but is set around the time of the March Equinox. Therefore, in the Catholic Church, the date of Easter is always between March 22 and April 25.
Easter Day is not only celebrated in Italy but also in many countries worldwide.
Additional customs that have become associated with Easter and that are observed by both Christians and non-Christians include egg hunting, the Easter Bunny, and Easter parades.
Good Friday and Easter Week processions in Italy
In Italy religious parades and celebrations are held in many towns. Some traditions are regional, such as the art of palm weaving, in which decorative crosses and other designs are created from the palms received on Palm Sunday.
Solemn religious processions are held in many towns on the Friday or Saturday before Easter and sometimes on Easter Sunday. Many churches have special statues of the Virgin and Jesus that play a big part in the processions. The statues may be paraded throughout the city or displayed in the main square. Parade participants are often dressed in ancient traditional costumes. Olive branches are often used instead of or along with palm fronds in the processions and to decorate churches.
Picture by florenceitaly.net