One of the best-known symbols of Sicilian folk iconography, the cart was created as a means of transport that responded to practical needs, but went on to be transformed into a vehicle for cultural transmission. Sculpture and painting were applied its various constituent parts to represent moments from the island’s history, or from epic stories or popular religion, creating valuable constructions that were genuine traveling works of art. Discover the beauty of this thoroughly Sicilian tradition.
The Sicilian cart is closely linked to the history of the island, but is hasn’t always existed, not least because the deterioration of the road network after the fall of the Roman Empire made two-wheeled vehicles almost unusable. It was only at the beginning of the nineteenth century that the cart began to be widespread, as prior to then all trade and transport were generally carried out by sea. From that moment on the horse-drawn cart began to be used to transport wood and agricultural products, such as sacks of grain, legumes, citrus fruits, almonds and wine barrels. Its use for transportation declined in the second half of the twentieth century, however, with the increasing popularity of motor vehicles, but, as we shall see, it continues to work its charms on popular sensibility and tourists.
Image Credit: Particolare di un carretto siciliano decorato con una scena di battaglia. Palermo, 1961 – Mario De Biasi per Mondadori Portfolio