Jennifer's April Letter from Florence
As I was writing this it was just after April Fool’s Day, which in Florence and Italy as a whole means that you might have someone try to pull a fast one over you.
Going back to the main topic, interestingly, though, the phrase following an early-spring gag of the sort is not “April fool’s”, instead here the tradition is “Pesce d’Aprile” or “April fish.”
Has a nice ring to it, no? According to The Local the phrase originally came from the idea of “baiting” people or “fishing for responses” with joke articles or announcements and seeing if they’d “bite”.
I hope your start to April and this lovely spring season is smooth and involves only the fun kind of fish. Certainly in Florence there’s plenty to look forward to. If you’re in town and have little ones, the Firenze dei Bambini festival is back to entertain tots, teens and those in between for three days April 12-14. The new edition of one event that truly never gets old—the Gelato Festival—takes place in Piazzale Michelangelo from April 6-7.
Could anything beat delicious sweets and stunning scenery?
The Gelato Festival also reminds us that it’s the perfect time of year to start indulging our sweet tooth several times a day :-)....Gelaterie will be opening earlier in the days, and I’ll take that as my cue to occasionally swap out my morning coffee for a caffe-flavored cone, thank you very much.
And speaking of indulging your sweet tooth: Easter is around the corner and with it comes plenty of excuses for chocolate eggs and "Colomba", the traditional dove-shaped Italian Easter cake. Of course homemade versions from your corner pasticceria are the tastiest but you’ll also start seeing inexpensive versions crop up on every supermarket shelf on either side of the Arno—one of my favorite things about colomba is amassing many of them in the throes of Easter week (through parties, work-related gatherings and whatnot) and then enjoying them for breakfast as you would leftover panettone post-Christmas.
Not in Italy and can’t get your hands on a storebought one? Here’s a nice little article to give you some inspiration if you feel like whipping one up yourself.
Easter means so much more than sweets, however: there’s the "Scoppio del Carro" (the Explosion of the Cart), one of my all-time favorite Florentine rituals, and certainly one of the most bizarre.
If you’re here on Easter Sunday and planning on attending a worship service, I’d suggest opting for an early-morning or evening mass so that you can arrange to be in piazza Duomo at 10am for the Scoppio del Carro spectacle. It’s a sight to behold: from the high altar of Santa Maria del Fiore, a dove-shaped rocket is shot out into the square, where an elaborate, fireworks-stuffed cart nicknamed the “Brindellone” is waiting to be lit. The “dove” works its magic and a Florentine fireworks show at the foot of the Duomo delights audiences.
You might have to see it to believe it.
This time of year also means it’s finally garden season. Liberation Day in late April (the 25th) is the perfect occasion to visit one of my favorite local treasures: the Iris Garden, accessible from viale Michelangelo 82. I lived here an embarrassing amount of time before I ever knew the iris, not the lily or giglio, was the official flower of Florence—much less went to the garden! Don’t make that same mistake!
Now get back to ringing in spring the best ways you know how! After the show in New York I will fly back to Florence and I will be there welcoming who decided to come over during the holidays break.
Jennifer Tattanelli is an American clothing designer and manufacturer who lives and works in Florence, Italy. You can see her collection here.