If you were in downtown Florence in the area around the Duomo or Piazza della Signoria this past Saturday afternoon, you likely encountered a parade in historical costume, drums, flag throwers and even a cannon! This procession went from the Palagio di Parte Guelfa to the Duomo to meet a large cart full of wine bottles before continuing on to Piazza della Signoria. If you saw all of this you might also have wondered what exactly was going on. What you witnessed is the welcome by Florence of the “carro matto” (crazy cart) from the nearby wine producing town of Rufina!
I am not sure why it is called the crazy cart – maybe for the crazy amount of wine bottles skillfully placed on top of each other? – but the tradition of bringing the season’s first wine to Florence’s cathedral for blessing and presenting the wine to the Signoria goes back centuries. The cart sometimes carried up to 2500 wine bottles, the one we saw on Saturday carried 1500 which is still an impressive amount. Chianti wine, famous across the globe today, traveled from the countryside to taverns and wine cellars in this way, back when a pair of oxen and a cart were the only way to transport the bottles which placed in this manner did not break.
Since 1973, the town of Rufina begun celebrating its local product with a town event called “Bacco Artigiano” that takes place over the last week in September. After a few years it was decided to add back the tradition of the Carro Matto and its blessing in Florence as it used to be done years ago. The event not only celebrates the importance of wine in the area but also allows all spectators a glimpse into the past while enjoying a wonderful glass of red Chianti Rufina wine!
About Lourdes Flores
An American living in Florence for over 10 years, Lourdes continues to explore and discover new places in Tuscany with the eyes of a tourist but with the experience of living in Italy. She shares her experiences on this blog and website, particularly offering lots of travel planning help on the Forum!