A popular tradition, also documented by historical records, dates the Historical Reenactment of Good Friday in Grassina to the first decades of the 17th century, as an exclusively religious rite, a common practice in those years in many parts of central and southern Europe, as an act of devout gratitude for freedom from the plagues of war and the Black Death.
Over the course of time, the mystical feeling was also joined by a spectacular element, due to the great fascination of the events depicted and the setting in natural scenery of rare charm. Suspended during the war years, the Reenactment was revived and enriched in 1950, and continued until 1966, the year of the disastrous flood in Florence.
Since 1983, a group of volunteers from Grassina has revived the event with new lyrics and a musical adaptation.
Today, the performance consists of 2 moments that take place simultaneously: a Historical Procession, in which about 500 costumed figures participate, parading through the streets of the town in period costume, and scenes from the life and passion of Jesus on “Calvary”, performed by about 100 extras.
Slender figures, mighty soldiers and centurions, glittering Roman women, the picture of the thieves and majestic horses make up the Historical Procession and frame a swaying and suffering Christ during the 90-minute Stations of the Cross.
The moment of “Calvary” sees the figures moving on the natural stage carved out of narrow streets, low walls, broom and olive trees, like shadows in the magnificent hillside of Grassina: theatrical devices and a natural setting that together create a harmony of colors, sounds and lights that amazes and impresses those who witness it.
A new feature of the latest editions is the staging of one of the scenes in Piazza Umberto, at the center of the procession route: the encounter and dramatic dialogue of Jesus with Governor Pilate.
The dialogues and texts are freely taken from the Gospels of Matthew, Luke and John. The music is by Dvořák, Orff, Haendel, Grieg, Bach, Wagner, Verdi, Stravinsky, Beethoven, Fauré, Mahler, Albinoni.