Felice Pasqua!

Happy Easter from Italia!

If you can spend Easter Sunday anywhere in the world, make it Florence. That’s not just from me, but also from a newspaper article my Italian teacher passed around. Florence has one of the coolest ancient traditions to celebrate Jesus conquering death. But more on that later.

Living with Europeans means you learn new things every day, and it also means you give them new experiences, too. Today, that means the blessed cinnamon rolls. Obviously these guys aren’t in every grocery store in town, otherwise my friends would’ve tried them before. So we found a recipe online and made them from scratch! We prepared most of it the night before, and at 9 on Easter I got up to pop them in the oven. For breakfast we had delicious cinnamon rolls, and for most of them it was for the first time ever!

At 10:30 we left the house for Il Scoppio del Carro, or The Explosion of the Cart. It’s pretty much exactly what you think it is, and it has been happening for over 350 years. Around 10 a huge, ornate cart that was built in 1622 is pulled around the city by oxen. Around 11 it is parked in front of the Duomo, and every side street is filled with people trying to see it and the imminent display.

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When the “Gloria” is sung, the archbishop lights a rocket in the shape of a dove on fire, and it is shot on a wire towards the cart, which ignites in a ten-minute display of fireworks. There were so many different types! Red and white sparks that shot up, green sparks that shot up even higher, wheels on the cart that spun with sparklers attached, lines of fireworks around the cart that lit up one by one. There was no end to the creativity! If the ceremony goes off without a hitch, good luck is ensured for the harvest, as well as for the city and its citizens. Being one of the citizens myself, I was very happy that there was such a beautiful display!

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The flints used to light the dove rocket are important as well. According to legend, a Florentine named Pazzino took part in the first Crusade in the Holy Land in 1099. He was one of the first to scale the walls of Jerusalem and raise the Christian banner. Pazzino was rewarded for his bravery with three flints from the Holy Sepulchre. These flints are stored in the Church of SS Apostoli, and are used every year for this special tradition.

All state-owned museums are free on Easter, so we went to the Palazzo Vecchio. This building used to be one of the quarters of the Medici family, but is now the town hall. It was understandably crowded, but not nearly as much as the more popular museums like the Uffizi.

After that we went to the Gucci Museo next door. It wasn’t free, but I obviously had to go before I left! Since it wasn’t free there were very few people there, which meant we had it almost all to ourselves. The museum is filled with Gucci memorabilia and products, including a Gucci car. The best room was of course the evening wear room! We got up close and personal looks at gowns worn by celebrities. There was no partition between us and the dresses, so I could really look at the intricacies of each one (including forgetting this was a museum and touching one of them!)

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Because it was Easter, of course we dyed eggs! I showed my roommates how I blow eggs, and we dyed the shells and ate scrambled eggs for lunch.

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At 4:30 we went to see the new Cinderella movie in this lush theatre. The movie was in English with Italian subtitles. And they had an intermission in the middle of it! I was so confused, but apparently that’s a common thing here, along with assigned seats for movie theaters (although not this one).

For dinner we cooked the traditional lamb cooked in milk, along with sausages, potatoes, and salad. We lit tea candles and put them and our dyed eggs in the middle as a centerpiece. Then, much to my surprise, we ate by the candlelight! Everyone else called it ambiance. I called it darkness.

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And a cookie skillet for dessert!

Today was such a wonderful day of learning and new experiences for everyone. At the very end of my day I listened to the Mercy Hill sermon and praised God for the gift he gave us of freedom from our sins and eternal life.

Felice Pasqua a tutti!

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