Sicilian carts are a symbol of Sicilian tradition and folklore. Known all over the world they have originated in Sicily around the 8th century. The carts were built by skilled craftsmen called “carradori” (coachbuilders) and were once used for transporting goods of all kinds.
Several kinds of craftsmen took part in the construction of the cart, starting from “u firraru” (blacksmith), which carried out all the iron parts, “u siddaru”, a craftman who saddled and adorned the horses with bows, ribbons, bells, decorated harnesses, gilded nails and plumes (usually red and yellow as a reference to the Sicilian flag’s colors).
Finally there were “u ferrascecchi” (blacksmith), who looked after shoeing the horse and the carvers, who took care of the sides of the cart, decorating them with rich paintings and engravings. The more important the owner of the cart was, the more elaborate the ornaments were.
The colorful decorations cover various subjects, from the sacred images of the Virgin Mary or the Saints , to episodes of romances, from folk epic scenes of everyday life to historical events. These wonderful examples of the popular culture of the Island can be admired especially during the folk festivals. The feast of S. Alfio, in Trecastagni (Catania) is one of the best known.