Tuesday, April 22, 2014


Buona Pasqua!   (Happy Easter / Passover). 

Every holiday in Italy has it's own traditions, here you won't find Easter baskets, bunnies and egg hunts, but you will find beautifully wrapped chocolate eggs with a surprise inside!

Since daughter decided to join us for a few months - we couldn't pass up on the chocolate egg!

Easter Breakfast - Colomba di Pasqua (dove shaped bread/cake)  and Italian coffee - great yummy combination.  This is worth looking up a recipe on.

We spent Easter with the masses (ha-ha) in front of the Duomo celebrating a tradition going back to the first crusade called "The Scoppio del Carro" or Explosion of the Cart.  When we arrived at the Basilica de Santa Maria del Fiore we were beat to the prime viewing spots. (should have skipped that Colomba and coffee) We had to squeeze our way through until we at least had sight of the cart.  We missed the procession where the 30 foot cart is pulled through Florence by white oxen.  At 10 am the cart (loaded with fireworks) and followed by a parade of people dressed in medieval costumes arrives in front of the church.  Following the Mass, the Archbishop sends a dove-shaped rocket fired from inside the church into the cart igniting the fireworks with a 20 minute display of pyrotechnics.  This ritual is supposed to bring a bountiful harvest and  good luck to all - we feel lucky being on this trip and our pasta eating has made us bountiful!

Thousands of people surrounding the cart - I hate being short.

The start of the fireworks coming from the cart

We wandered 800 meters (about an hour) to the Basilica of Santa Croce after the multitude of tourists and locals dispersed from the excitement of the "Scoppio del Carro".   This church was built in 1294 designed by Cambio, of Italian Gothic architecture and was completed with Renaissance architecture created by Michelozzo and Brunelleschi and later the neo-gothic facade was done by the architect Niccolo Matas in the 19th century.  I love the Star of David at the top that Matas put in his design of this Franciscan church.

The inside of Santa Croce has frescoes, tombs, and sculptures by some of the greatest Florentine artists.  The basilica is also called the "Temple of the Italian Glories" because it is the burial place of many renowned Italians, for example Machiavelli, Galileo, ........

.....and the most famous tomb in Santa Croce is that of Michelangelo.  
The 3 figures sitting on the tomb represent painting, sculpture and architecture.

This is not the tomb of Dante Alighieri, but what is a cenotaph (an empty tomb) - lots of drama on the story with his beloved Florence who exiled him and if he returned could be burned at the stake.   It took the council of Florence to finally pass a motion to rescind his sentence in 2008.  I guess better late than never.  Now they are trying to move his remains from Ravenna - who knows - maybe in another  600 years....  In any case, just walking through Florence there are many reminders that the poet Dante was loved by the city.

A sweet treat on a side street away from the hordes

Easter Happy Hour at the "Volume" - a cool bar in Piazza Santo Spirito.   

The Pasqua starter for us was the Crostini di Fegato alla toscana (chicken liver pate on toast).  Followed by first course - Gnocchi for the vegetarian, Ragu Gnocchi for me and  Rich had a Salmon pasta.  Traditional 2nd course would normally be a lamb in the oven, but shock -  the pasta filled us, so we passed on the lamb (Renata was happy about that).

Another perfect day in Florence!