We witnessed one of the stranger, interesting and exciting rituals of Easter in Florence today - the "Explosion of The Cart" or "Scoppio del Carro" (also known as "il Brindellone" or the "Cart of St. John"). It is an ancient tradition that dates back to the crusades, an elaborate event that has to be seen in person to be fully appreciated. A large, irregular shaped "cart" is pulled into the square between the Duomo and the Baptistry by huge white oxen and accompanied by much fanfare, flag throwing and bell ringing. Inside the church, a fake dove is ignited in the middle of mass and sent on a wire into the cart that is loaded with various fireworks and explosives (and I mean loud explosions that go one for several minutes - and lots of smoke). The quality of the fireworks predicts the fate of Florence for the year - while in the middle ages it was more closely linked to the quality of that year's harvest. If you are ever in Florence for Easter don't miss this event.