The so called Brindellone is a huge wooden cart that is the protagonist of the Explosion of the Cart, a very ancient Florentin tradition that takes place every year on Easter day in Duomo Square.
Everything started in 1099 when the Florentin Pazzino de’ Pazzi joined the First Crusade. He was the first to put the Florentin flag on the walls of Jerusalem, so the comandert of the Christian army Goffredo di Buglione gave him the privilege to take three stones from the Holy Sepulchre back to Florence.
At the same time something else was taken back to Florence: the tradition to distribute the Holy Fire to the people. Through the century this tradition was done using a wooden cart. Century after century we get to the use of fireworks instead of the Holy Fire and we come to the present day: the Brindellone is a wooden cart that’s 11 metres high and 4500 kg heavy. It’s made of pine and oak tree wood with the same building technique used for ships. The one that’s still used for the celebration nowadays dates back to 1494. It’s kept in a large place in Via del Prato, from which it’s taken out on Easter day morning only, by a pair of oxes beautifully decorated with garlands of flowers. From there the Brindellone is pulled till Duomo Square.
The cart is loaded with fireworks while a wire, stretching to the high altar inside the cathedral to the cart, is fitted with a mechanical dove (the so called “columbina”) which is a rocket. The cardinal of Florence lights a fuse in the columbina with the Easter fire that’s made using the three stones coming from Jerusalem. The colombina then speeds through the church to ignite the cart outside. The beautiful and colorful fireworks lasts about 20 minutes while the bells of the belltower ring. According to the tradition a successful ignition of the fireworks is supposed to be a good homen for the city! It seems that the only year when this didn’t happen was in 1966…(7 months later the city was hit by the floods)…