Easter in Italy – Special celebrations

Easter in Italy - Florence

Easter in Italy is one of the most important celebrations in Italy, second only to Christmas.

For those of you who are not familiar with the Christian religion, Easter, Pasqua in Italian, is the day when Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.

On Easter in Italy, practicing Christians usually go to Church and then celebrate with their family and/or friends.

However, in some parts of Italy there are special celebrations on Easter, which are worth mentioning and seeing.

For example, special celebrations take place in Florence and Sulmona.


To explain why Easter is celebrated as it is today, I’ll have to go back in time, in particular to 1101.

That year, a florentine knight, named Pazzino di Ranieri de’Pazzi, came back from the crusades in Jerusalem with some pieces of flint from the Holy Sepulcher of Christ, a reward for his bravery.

Those same stones were used in Florence to light the sacred fire for the Easter Vigil. The fire was then offered to all the families in Florence to light the fireplace at their homes.

This event is commemorated with a procession called Scoppio del Carro – The explosion of the cart.

During this procession, an antique wooden cart covered in fireworks and rockets is dragged through the city by white oxen until it reaches The Church of Santa Maria del Fiore. The cart is followed by a parade of people dressed in medieval costumes.

Once at the Church, the bishop sends La Colombina – the little dove – a dove-shaped rocket, into the cart, starting the fireworks and the rockets.


For those of you who don’t know it, Sulmona is an Italian town in Abruzzo that is very famous for the production of sugared almonds.

However, Sulmona is also worth meantioning because every year a special Easter tradition takes place there.

I’m talking about La Madonna che scappa in piazza – The Virgin Mary who runs to the square.

This event is a reconstruction of the apparition of the resurrected Christ to the Virgin Mary.

On Easter a group of people, dressed in green and white – colors that mean peace, hope and resurrection – gather outside the Church of Saint Philip carrying the statue of the Virgin Mary.

The Virgin Mary is dressed in black because she’s mourning the death of Christ.

Some other men carry the statue of Saint John and Saint Peter who came to tell Virgin Mary that Christ is resurrected.

The men carrying the Virgin Mary starts to walk towards the place where the statue of Christ is. At first slowly because the Virgin Mary cannot believe in the news, but then they start to run from the joy. When the run begins, 12 doves are released and the dress of the Virgin Mary becomes green and white.

Have you ever celebratd Easter in Italy? How was it? Do you know any other town where Easter is celebrated with special events?

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