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Anyone planning to spend their Easter holidays in Florence is in for a treat. On Easter Sunday, visitors can be dazzled by the Scoppio del Carro (the "exploding cart"), the centrepiece of Florence's Easter celebrations. At 10 am, priests at the Church of SS. Apostoli rub together three sacred flints that, legend tells, were brought back from the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem in 1099 by a local crusader.
A holy candle is lit on the three storey tall cart, which is slowly led by an elegant white oxen to the Duomo, accompanied by a huge crowd of drummers and local people in colourful costumes. At 11 am, the local Archbishop lights a rocket which connects to the cart, setting off an impressive fireworks display.
If you are in the city for a long Easter weekend, major churches all open their doors on Holy Thursday. Visitors can witness the traditional mass and see altars lavishly decorated with flowers, while tours are available so that you don't miss out on any of the displays. You can visit Grassina on Good Friday where, every year, 500 local people re-enact the story of Christ's Passion.
What better way to relax after the festival than by visiting Florence's museums and galleries? You can find many state-run cultural institutions, including the Uffizi and Accademia galleries. Alternatively, you can stretch your legs with a walk across the Ponte Vecchio and visit the museum of the Palazzo Vecchio and the famous Duomo. After a stroll around the grand Uffizi, round off your Sunday by touring the historic Medici chapels in San Lorenzo.
If you are staying in the city for Easter Monday, many parts of Florence stage unique food and craft markets to cater for the holiday crowds. Head to Fiesole and try some fine wine and Tuscan delicacies such as pan di ramerino, a sweet bread baked over lent, or head to a local restaurant and enjoy a bistecca t-bone steak.
Easter is a magical time to visit Florence - whether you adore great art or want to soak up the atmosphere of Italian street festivities. It is also a popular time for Italians to travel, so book your Easter holidays in Florence early and experience one of the world's most beautiful cities at its best.