Scoppio del Carro, or the Explosion of the Carriage (Easter Sunday), Piazza del Duomo, Florence. An 18th-century gilded cart is pulled to the cathedral doors by white oxen, and a doveshaped rocket swoops down a wire from above the High Altar inside to ignite fireworks hidden in the cart. Ostensibly a celebration of the Resurrection, the ceremony has roots in pagan fertility rites. Many Tuscans still believe that a successful firework display means a good harvest.
Festa degli Aquiloni. or Kite Festival (first Sunday after Easter), San Miniato (see j pi59). Kite lovers perform aerial acrobatics on the Prato della Rocca, the grassy common above San Miniato.
Maggio Musicale. Florence. This is the city’s major arts festival and it now lasts until early June, with conceits by the Orchestra Regionale Toscana, directed by Zubin Mehta, and other international performers. The festival has been extended to include dance (from classical ballet to experimental work) and fringe events.
Festa del Grillo, or the Cricket Festival (first Sunday after Ascension Thursday), Le Cascine, Florence. The huge park to the west of Florence, where Shelley wrote Ode to the West Wind, is the setting for this festival. It is a celebration of the joys of spring,
I at which stallholders sell crickets in tiny woven straw I cages; these are then released to bring good luck.
Balestro del Girifalco, or Falcon Contest (first Sunday after 22 May), Massa i Marittima (seep3 7).
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