If you are spending Easter weekend in Florence as a family with kids, Laura (our kids’ columnist) suggests the following activities. Note that in Italy, Easter Monday is a national holiday and everything is closed.

When the chocolate egg is bigger than the kid's head.
When the chocolate egg is bigger than the kid’s head.

Easter Sunday ceremony

Florentines and visitors all look forward to the strange Easter tradition of the explosion of the cart (scoppio del carro) that takes place around 11am outside Florence’s Duomo. The story is much recounted (you can read about it also on The Florentine) and goes essentially as follows. On Easter day, Pazzino de’ Pazzi hoisted the flag of Crusaders on the Holy City’s walls. For that, he received three stones of the Holy Sepulcher (you can find them in the Santi Apostoli church) which, back in Florence, he apparently used to start a holy fire. The modern incarnation of this is a cart full of fireworkds that Florentines call ‘Brindellone’. It is first processed from piazzale del Prato and stops at Piazza del Duomo between Battistero and Cattedrale. At 11.00, while inside they are singing “Gloria in Excelsis Deo”, the cartis ignited by flying dove that comes out of the Duomo with a fuse in its ass. 150 musicians, flag throwers in historical costume and a crowd gather outside to celebrate.

Bad weather activities

After lunch on Easter Day if the weather is bad you can book and participate to one of the activities organized at Museo dei Ragazzi in Palazzo Vecchio (piazza della Signoria in Florence) – part of the Palazzo Vecchio museum and organized by MUSE Firenze. Find a list of activities and dates here. Many are available in English or Italian as long as you book in advance.

Museo dei Ragazzi activities (photo from their flickr)
Museo dei Ragazzi activities (photo from their flickr)

Of the activities we’ve enjoyed (for 4 years old and up) is “Court life”, perfect for those who visit this museum for the first time to discover the daily life of Cosimo I de’ Medici, Eleonora di Toledo and their 11 children. You can imagine the wonderful parties and lunches/dinners organized in the Great Hall and private details compared with the present times. The visit ends in the Gallery of Renaissance costumes where you can look, touch and even try cloaks, shoes, hats of XVI century.

State museums in Florence (Uffizi, Accademia, Pitti etc) may be exceptionally OPEN both on Easter Sunday and on the Monday (their normal closure day). Only the museum of San Marco is closed. We suggest going to Palazzo Davanzati with kids!

Good weather activities

Dino exhibit in Florence with kids. Photo from the official website: http://dinosauricarneossafirenze.tumblr.com/

If the weather is good over your Easter weekend in Florence, find out what is on at the Orto Botanico, or go to another garden in Florence. One year we attended a Dinosaur exhibit at the Orto Botanico but this is not on all the time.

We were unable to find any more activities for kids of any age over Easter weekend, a time that, despite the saying “Pasqua con chi vuoi” (have easter with whoever you want) really does tend to be dedicated to family gatherings and eating lots of food (big lunches both on Easter Sunday and Pasquetta). Prepare for this down time by planning walks in parks, outside town, or preparing rainy day craft activities inside your home or hotel.

Easter Monday traditions

The day after Easter is called ‘Pasquetta’ and in Italy we generally do the “gita fuori porta” – day trip. If the weather is good, most of us in Florence and Tuscany go to Versilia (Forte dei Marmi, Pietrasanta, Lido di Camaiore, etc.) to spend the first day on the beach walking, making sand castles, having fish, sunbathing with friends. If you want to eat, most of the bathing establishments already have their restaurants open for lunch.

Pasquetta on the beach at 7 months

In Florence itself, expect all stores to be closed on this day.

Where to buy the best traditional Easter cakes

The awesome eggs at Vestri

Custom chocolate Easter eggs at Vestri (Borgo Albizi 11 in Florence) where you can custom order the egg in advance. Choose the kind of chocolate (black, white, with nuts, et.c), size (big, medium, etc.) and bring the “surprise” you want the recipient to find inside. This customized Easter surprise is very appreciated!

Colomba (Easter cake in the shape of the dove) at Carapina (via Lambertesca 18 r close to Ponte Vecchio or in piazza Oberdan 2r) you’ll can buy a great dove made in Tabiano Terme (near Parma) with all natural ingredients… and with the delicious Carapina icecream inside. You can choose between different flavours – Artusi, vinsanto, chocolate etc. Put the ice-cream colomba in a hot oven for a few minutes before serving: the ice-cream will melt with colomba for an unforgettable taste!

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