The Scoppio del Carro, or Explosion of the Cart, takes place every Easter Sunday in piazza del Duomo in Florence, and its origins date to the First Crusade.
The festival is celebrated just as it’s always been: the cart, the same one used since the 18th century, is pulled by colourful oxen adorned in ribbons from Porta al Prato to cathedral’s porch. An iron cable is tied to the centre of the cart for the dove to slide down, while the procession of the clergy arrives at the Baptistery from the Church of the Santissimi Apostoli, where they begin the sacred rites. At midday, the dove is launched down the cable, leaving a trail of smoke as it flies across the nave of the cathedral. It hits the cart, loaded with firecrackers, setting off an explosion and then heading back to where it started.
Hundreds of multi-coloured wisps of smoke fill the air, alongside the sounds of whistles and bursts, while at the top of the cart, a pinwheel starts to spin that, when finished twirling, opens like the petals of a lily with a thunderous pop.