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Buona Pasqua!

posted Mar 31, 2013, 3:34 PM by Jen Hayes
Today marked our first full day in Italy... and Easter Sunday! We awoke bright and early for an 8:30 breakfast of pastries, yogurt, ham, cheese, and the all-important caffè before heading out to try and catch the Easter festivities in Florence. By centuries-old tradition, a cart of fireworks is wheeled into the city by oxen and set in front of the cathedral. A dove (mechanical, in this day and age) is sent by wire with a flame to light the fireworks and set off a display to guarantee good luck in the coming year.

Our two van drivers promised to get us as close to the festivities as possible - last year by bus, our Florence drop-off point was many blocks away from the center of town. This year, our drivers apologized for the distance as they let us off at the far end of the piazza, just as the oxen and cart passed before us. Molto bene, not a problem! The bells in the tower tolled dramatically as we left the vehicles, and the melodic, chanting sounds of the mass in progress followed us as we all secured spots to view the fireworks. What a display! The dove made its way to the cart and back, lighting the fireworks and securing the best possible luck for the year by making its way back to the Duomo altar, too. Round after round of firecrackers and sparklers lit from the cart and left our ears ringing and the piazza full of smoke. Again, the bells tolled - it seems we’ve found our city!

The group recollected in the vast crowd as the trumpeters and drummers recessed and the cart was drawn away again by the oxen. We hopped the tramvia out of town to meet up with our vans away from the hordes of people leaving the piazza, and returned to the villa for a grand Easter brunch. Seven courses awaited us, along with plenty of wine - and most excitingly for some, Easter Kindereggs! These chocolate eggs come holding a small toy inside; in this case we had little plastic cars to decorate with stickers and race throughout dinner. We spent three hours eating, drinking, and celebrating, and decided to take a short break to recover before coming back to the tables for our second rehearsal. We’re making some real progress and have even added some of our own creative key changes and performance notes to the pieces. After such a long day, we finally left the tables ready for a chance to relax over our simple cold buffet dinner of crostini, barley salad, cold cuts, and cheeses, alongside the ever-present vino, e dopo caffe. Even after such amazing meals today, we can’t wait for our cooking lesson with Paola tomorrow. A presto e buona pasqua!