Some Interesting Italian Easter Facts
1. The real staircase that Jesus walked up for His trial can be found in Rome. It is called La Scala Santa and it was transported from Jerusalem to Rome by Saint Helena (Sant' Elena) in the year 326 AD.
The staircase belonged to the house where Ponzio Pilato- Pontius Pilate - lived.
The tradition is to go up the staircase on your knees, whilst praying.
2. Every year on Easter Day in Florence there is a tradition called Lo Scoppio del Carro. It means 'the explosion of the cart.'
A tall structure in the shape of a dove's house (a dovecote) is brought to the square in front of the cathedral - la Piazza del Duomo. It is laden with fireworks. A mechanical dove ignites the structure, resulting in an enormous display of exploding fireworks. It is very noisy!
This dangerous tradition has existed for about 1000 years! It is said that the fire represents new life and will bring plentiful harvests and good luck for the year ahead. The fire is known il fuoco santo meaning 'holy fire.'
3. On Easter Day, in the area of Vaticano in Rome, thousands of people wait for the Pope (Il Papa) to speak from the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica. This is known as the Easter Papal Address - il Messaggio Pasquale del Papa. Italians watch the event on the television because it is very important to hear il suo Messaggio.
4. In many areas of Italy, they eat an Easter pizza - una pizza di Pasqua. There are different recipes according to the area of Italy. La pizza di Pasqua is deep and round.
5. There is a very famous statue carved out of marble and situated in la Basilica di San Pietro of the Vatican City. It depicts Jesus being held in His mother's arms after the Crucifixion. The sculpture is called La Pietà and it was created by Michelangelo in the years 1498 - 1499.
6. The Last Supper is called Il Cenacolo in Italian and it is commemorated on Holy Thursday - il Giovedi Santo. The most famous painting of Il Cenacolo was created by Leonardo da Vinci in the 1490s.
It portrays the Last Supper of Jesus with His disciples, before His arrest, trial and Crucifixion.
Leonardo painted the moment when Jesus announces that one of His disciples will betray Him. The disciples are reacting with surprise and disbelief.
It is painted on a wall inside the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan.