The Sicilian cart: history of the legendary symbol of the isle

sicilian cart

In the social imaginary, one of the symbol that represents Sicily is for sure the famous Sicilian cart. But what’s the origin of this particular thing? Maybe not everyone know that in principle it was just a simple cart with two wheels made for the transport of little goods. The first carts were built in the nineteenth century because, before this period, there was no road network. The cart consisted in a trunk, two wheels and two stakes, and it was pulled by an animal.

The custom of decorating the carts was born to emulate the famous carriages of the Sicilian nobility. The small peddlers thought it could be a great way to lure the buyers. So everybody started  painting their carts with many colors representing geometric forms or religious subjects. The most used colors were the yellow and the orange, the colors of Sicily, but also the red and the blue.

The decorations and the form of the Sicilian cart could vary from city to city, for example in Palermo the sideboards are trapezoidal and the decorations are mostly geometric and two-dimensional. While in Catania the sideboards are rectangular and the prevalent color is the red, with refined decorations and carvings.

 

Image source: Wikimedia