Sicilian carts: history and millennial tradition
If there's one thing Sicily knows how to do well, it's carts. Not the ones driven in cities, but the colorful, decorated ones that speed through the streets of Sicilian towns and carry with them a millennial history. The tradition of Sicilian carts is so ancient that it dates back to the ancient Greeks, but it was especially during the Norman period that the carts took on their current form and became a symbol of Sicilian culture and identity.
History of Sicilian carts: Sicilian carts originated in ancient times as means of transport mainly used for transporting goods. However, it was only in the Middle Ages that the carts acquired their characteristic appearance, with a parallelepiped shape and large, sturdy wheels. During this period, the Normans arrived in Sicily and brought with them their culture and artistic techniques, which blended with the local ones, giving rise to a new form of art.
Decoration of the carts: The decoration of the carts developed especially between the 18th and 19th centuries when the carts became objects of art and decoration, with paintings, sculptures, and engravings representing scenes from daily life, Greek mythology, Christianity, and the history of Sicily. These decorations were made by master craftsmen, the cartwrights, who passed down their techniques from generation to generation, creating a unique and inimitable cultural heritage. During the 19th century, Sicilian carts became a symbol of Sicilian culture and began to be used also on the occasion of festivals and religious processions. However, with the advent of modern means of transport, the carts gradually lost their importance as means of transport, and their production began to decline.
Use of Sicilian carts today: Despite the advent of modern means of transport, Sicilian carts are still used today for transporting goods and people. They are no longer the primary means of transport, but even today, it's possible to see carts speeding through the streets of Sicilian cities, carrying with them a bit of history and tradition.
Moreover, Sicilian carts have also become a tourist attraction, thanks to their artistic beauty and their millennial history. Today, one can visit museums and exhibitions dedicated to Sicilian carts or participate in carriage tours to discover the beauty of Sicilian cities in a different and original way.
In conclusion, Sicilian carts are much more than just means of transport: they are a symbol of Sicilian culture and identity, a unique and inimitable artistic and cultural heritage. From their beginning in ancient times to their current form and use today, Sicilian carts have spanned the centuries and have become a fundamental element of Sicilian history and tradition. If you visit Sicily, don't miss the opportunity to admire these works of art on wheels and discover their millennial history.
The most important events in the course of history:
Antiquity: Sicilian carts have very ancient origins, dating back to the time of the ancient Greeks, who used horse-drawn carts for transporting goods.
12th century: During the Norman period, Sicilian carts took on their characteristic parallelepiped shape, with large and sturdy wheels.
18th-19th century: The decoration of the carts developed especially during this period, with paintings, sculptures, and engravings representing scenes from daily life, Greek mythology, Christianity, and the history of Sicily.
19th century: Sicilian carts became a symbol of Sicilian culture and identity and were also used on the occasion of festivals and religious processions.
20th century: With the advent of modern means of transport, carts gradually lost their importance as means of transport, and their production began to decline.
1950s-1960s: Thanks to the commitment of some enthusiasts, the production of Sicilian carts was revived, and efforts were made to preserve this artisanal tradition.
1980: The art of Sicilian carts was officially recognized by the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities as Italian cultural heritage.
Today: Sicilian carts are still used for transporting goods and people, but above all, they have become a tourist attraction, thanks to their artistic beauty and their millennial history.