florence, italy: easter and il scoppio del carro

Scoppio del Carro

Scoppio del Carro

Scoppio del Carro

Scoppio del Carro

We accidentally slept in today and almost missed Scoppio del Carro (history below). We quickly suited up Winston and headed out for a brisk walk across the river. We got there with a few minutes to spare and hung out with the oxen in Piazza della Repubblica...Winston did not know what to think about those HUGE animals.

By accident, we happened down a street that ended up being perfect for watching the actual exploding of the cart. So much fun!


The Scoppio del Carro, or Explosion of the Cart, is a mixed pagan/religious ceremony. Marking both Easter and Spring, the successful ignition of the cart guarantees good crops, a successful harvest, stable civic life and bountiful trade, as well as signifying the passage of new holy fire to light those extinguished on Good Friday.

A thirty-foot carved and painted wooden cart (the present version is over 150 years old) is pulled by flower- bedecked white oxen from Porta al Prato to Piazza del Duomo. A mechanical dove ‘flies’ down a line through the open doors of the cathedral, picks up ‘fire’ at the altar, returns to the cart and ignites the explosion of one of the best day-time fireworks display in the world.

It was during the pontificate of Leo X (Giovanni de’Medici, 1513-1521), the ‘colombina‘ – the mechanical bird, shaped like a dove with an olive branch in its beak – was used for the first time. At the Gloria of the Easter Mass, the deacon uses holy fire kindled from the stone chips – obtained during the crusades of 1099 from the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem – to light a fuse attached to the dove.

moving a pet abroad: prepping your pet's kennel for air travel

It's hard to believe, but in just 13 days Winston will make his journey from Philly to Rome, too! There are a couple (very important) things you need to do to ready a pet for travel. On the top of our list was getting the kennel ready and adding a wheel kit to make it easier to roll around in airports

In the video, Rob mentions the importance of drilling the holes in the back fo the crate, which had no openings. This is a common "horror story" that you read online -- people getting to the airport only to find out that their kennel doesn't qualify. It truly underscores the importance of doing your research before a move.

Next week Winston has his appointment with a USDA-certified vet and the next day Rob is driving to Harrisburg to get the paperwork certified. Who knew a 30 pound mutt required so much prep :-)

Moving to Italy: Shipping Your Stuff, Part Two

I'll be the first to admit that the process of getting our stuff packed took a bit longer than we thought. It's not just packing -- it's going through every single thing and asking "store it? trash it? pack it?" We wanted to store as little as possible and it was really time-consuming to go through everything.

Seeing the truck pull up on Wednesday to wisk our stuff away was a huge relief (and also really exciting). It's kind of cool to know the next time we see our stuff it will be in Florence!

This second video is all about the final stages of packing. Initially, we planned to record more video at home, but got sooo busy with other stuff that we just ran out of time. Still, I think future movers will find this video helpful.


Interesting notes from the move...

1. The guy that drove the freight truck that picked up our boxes was one of the nicest people ever! He was so patient with us when we realized we forgot to tape freight bills to the boxes.

2. UPakWeShip emailed the next day to check to see how it went. I love low-key (but good) customer service.