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text: Teresa Favi
photo cover: Andrea Paoletti

April 10, 2020

Easter and the Scoppio del Carro tradition in Florence at the time of the Coronavirus

What will there be instead of the millenary tradition so loved by the Florentines and our interview with the guardian of Brindellone

In Florence Easter 2020 will be without the Burst of the Cart.
The oldest Florentine folk tradition, which has been handed down for over 9 centuries and recalls the deeds of the Florentines at the Crusades and their return home, will not be held this year.

No Brindellone, no colombina's flight of good wishes, but a symbolic gesture, to give a sign of hope.

the traditional scoppio del carro

On the morning of April 12, Archbishop Betori, together with Mayor Nardella and the Gonfalone of Florence, will move from the high altar carrying the Easter candle to the churchyard, from where its light will be shown to the whole city, albeit in a virtual way, displayed above a square empty of people, but full of the hearts of its citizens.

Along with this precious gesture for the souls, also a concrete gesture, very important, announced by the mayor Nardella, that of the funds allocated to the historical re-enactment says: "We will donate the resources saved or about 50 thousand euros, to social, health and welfare projects of the municipality related to the coronavirus emergency.

On the occasion of Easter, our interview published in Firenze Made in Tuscany n.46, to Gianfranco Bernardini, for 38 years, has been keeper of the Brindellone, the traditional cart that on Easter day ‘explodes’ with fireworks in front of the Duomo, and for the rest of the year is kept in storage and looked after at Via Il Prato 48.

Gianfranco Bernardini, keeper of the Brindellone

How did this job begin?
As a boy, apprenticing to carpenters who at the time had the task of watching over the Brindellone’s condition.
How tall is it and how much does the cart weigh?
40 quintals and 11 meters in height. Three levels of finely inlaid chestnut and fir panels, wheels in elm, and the base is painted on the four sides depicting the districts of Florence.
When was it built and by whom?
Actually, we don’t know exactly which era it dates back to and who built it. Here in storage, I’ve always heard that it dates back to the fifteenth century.
How many people work around the Brindellone at Easter?
About thirty, excluding security and fireworks personnel.
Is it possible to visit it in storage during the year?
Yes, but by appointment. You just need to contact the City Office of popular Florentine traditions.
Why do the Florentines call it Brindellone?
The cart is empty inside, with a sort of mast in the center that, with steel rods, holds in place the chestnut and fir panels that are not fixed. The Florentines call it Brindellone because, being flexible, when it’s pulled along by the 4 white oxen, it moves like an ungainly boy (brindellone). And this flexibility is the secret reason that it has never been broken.


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