Sicilian cart – The Sicilian cart (or carretto siciliano in Italian and carrettu sicilianu in Sicilian) is an ornate, colorful style of horse-drawn cart native to the island of Sicily, in Italy.
The cart has two wheels and is primarily handmade out of wood with iron metal components. Carts called “Carretto da Lavoro” (cart for work) are used for hauling miscellaneous light loads, such as produce, wood, wine, and people, and “Carretto da Gara” are carts for festive occasions such as weddings and parade. The Carretto is like the ‘taxi’ or ‘truck’ of today.
In modern-day Sicily, the tradition continues in small, three-wheeled motorized vehicles (called Ape), which can be found painted in the traditional way.
The crews that built carretti included woodcarvers, metal workers, and painters. The woodcarvers carved the many panels that were often historic reliefs. The metal workers worked the iron, in a ‘ferro battuto’ style, which included highly decorated metal undercarriages.
The Sicilian Carretto is made in several provinces in Sicily each with their own style. Carretti made in the province of Palermo have more of a square box design, those made in Catania are made with more elaborate ‘keys’, and then there are the carts made in Agrigento which have their own distinctive style.
The craft of making the carts is handed down from generation to generation, through the training of apprentices. Carts are known for being covered in carvings and brightly painted scenes from Sicilian history and folklore as well as intricate geometrical designs. These scenes also served the purpose of conveying historical information to those who were illiterate. The colors of Sicily’s flag, yellow and red, feature prominently on the carts, along with details in bright blues and greens. The animals pulling the carts are often elaborately adorned as well (all notes from Wikipedia).