The Sicilian Cart is the symbol of folklore and craftsmanship. It represents the desire and seeking of beauty of the Sicilian people – due to its nature of being a practical transportation vehicle used for work, yet made into a stunning piece of art.

If you had the pleasure of seeing one, then its intricate and rich beauty is probably vivid in your mind. However, if you have not yet experienced this work of art, let us tell you about it.

Sicilian cart with horse

What is the Sicilian cart?

The Sicilian cart is generally two-wheeled, horse-drawn carriage. It is decorated with Sicilian folk iconography in the form of paintings, sculptures and fabrics that represent moments from the island’s history, forms epic stories of popular religion or depicts scenes from everyday life and nature.

The decorations cover the entirety of the cart and use vivid colors of reds, yellows, oranges. The Sicilian cart is an ode to Sicilian history and the way of life on the island.

In recent times,  the Sicilian cart exists as a unique mode of transportation used mostly for special events, weddings and folkloristic feats. For example, it plays an important role in the Festa di Sant’Alfio which takes place in the village of Trecastagni.

The carts, that leave at night from Catania and from other Etnean villages, arrive at Trecastagni in the morning, gathering in the square of the village.

In Catania, Palermo and other towns of Sicily, there are  notable schools specialising in the construction and decoration of the cart.

It is worth acknowledging the works of Bagheria and Aci S. Antonio, known for the paintings of the carts, and those of Floridia, Vittoria, Valguamera and Scordia.

Sicilian cart detail

The history of the Sicilian cart

It wasn’t until the end of the 18th century that road conditions improved enough in Sicily to allow transport by wheeled carts.

Previous to this, most of the island’s transportation was done by boats or mules. Transporting goods with a cart was a prestigious occupation and owning a horse drawn cart was a status symbol and demonstrated wealth and success.

Hence, the embellishment of the carts began. The more intricate the cart was decorated the more the businessman had invested in a talented craftsman, hence showing off his wealth.

The creation of a cart required a complex organization of tasks and involved multiple groups of skilled craftsmen with different specializations.

View of sicilian cart

The use of the Sicilian cart today and tours

Today, the Sicilian cart appears primarily at special events and weddings. It is the perfect addition of Sicilian tradition that brings an authentic presence and is loved by guests young and old.

Due to its traditional beauty and interesting history, many visitors to Sicily love to get familiar with the Sicilian cart. We offer tailored tours and experiences with Sicilian carts, allowing you to do just this.

Why not sit back and enjoy being at the centre of attention as you ride through the heart of Taormina on board of a traditional Sicilian colorful cart. Alternatively, you could discover the secrets of Catania through its beautiful buildings and churches onboard a Sicilian Ape Car decorated by a local artist.

Contact us and we can make this special experience happen. It will surely be a memorable and joyful addition to your trip in Sicily.

Ape car with Sicilian cart design
Ape car with Sicilian cart design

The future of the Sicilian cart

With the introduction of motorized vehicles, the cart has lost its original purpose of transporting goods and has taken on a symbolic role of cherishing folklore, becoming the relic of a now endangered set of customs and traditions. Currently the carts are used for events and special occasions and can often be admired at public festivals.

Although it is much rarer now, the knowledge of cart making artisans has not disappeared. Passed down from father to son, these rich and complex skills are continued by craft families like the Cinabro family in Ragusa, who help to keep the tradition alive.

The younger generations also shape and form the tradition. Keeping up with the times, they apply their mastery to new mediums such as cars, appliances, murals, etc. Like this line of SMEG appliances designed with the motifs of the Sicilian cart by the Cinabro family for Dolce & Gabbana. The luxury brand itself has taken inspiration from the cart, as a symbol of Sicilian tradition and folk iconography.

For those interested in the finding out more about the history of the Sicilian cart, we also recommend a visit to the Museo del Carretto Siciliano in Bronte, in the province of Catania.



The Feast of Sant’Agata in Catania – The event that all Catanese’s people are looking forward to


For centuries, the first week of February has been a special time of celebration to people of Catania. Starting on the 3rd of February, begins the Feast of Sant’Agata – a three-day long celebration, full of faith, devotion and tradition.

This incredible event brings tens of thousands of devotees to the streets of Catania in a spectacular expression of worship to give thanks to the city’s patron saint – Saint Agata.

During Festa di Sant’Agata, Catania is dressed in luminous lights, thousands of candles and flowers are offered to the saint and each evening of the feast is celebrated by elaborate fireworks.

Lights in Catania during Sant'Agata Feast


Who was Sant’Agata?

Saint Agata is beloved by all Catanese people for her show of courage and principle at a young age. The beautiful young virgin was born into a Christian aristocratic family and decided to devote her life to God.
However, her beauty caught the eye of Roman Proconsul Quintianus. She resisted his advances and marriage proposal, which unleashed a campaign of religious persecution against her. She was rolled on hot coals and had her breasts amputated, and subsequently died a martyr’s death on 5 February 251. Soon after, became a cult figure of Catania and a symbol of Sicily’s struggle against the Roman abuse of power.


Legends of her patronage

She became the patron saint of Catania and legends tell of her protecting Catania against Mount Etna’s eruptions, earthquakes and some epidemics. Legend has it that on February 1st, 252 – just before the first anniversary of her death, the city was threatened by a violent eruption. The inhabitants of the nearby villages, terrified, took the veil that was wrapped around her tomb, and used it as a shield against the lava flow. The white veil suddenly turned red and stopped the eruption on exactly February 5th, the day of her death.

saint agata feast sicily

Festival schedule

February 3rd the festival begins with the procession of the cannalori, eleven heavy gilded sculptures each holding a candle. They are carried on the shoulders of men through the streets and eventually to the Piazza Duomo where a concert and fireworks close the day.

February 4th is the day on which Sant’Agata’s statue is carried through the Cathedral and the city streets. Joined by thousands of worshippers, dressed in white cloth and black caps, the procession takes the statue throughout the city starting at 8am until 11pm, which is no small feat. Devotees carry enormous candles as offerings to the saint and the streets of Catania are covered by sawdust in order to protect the pavement from the burning candlewax.

Celebration Sant'Agata in Catania

February 5th the final day, the statue is taken on another tour of the city. The final leg of the procession is a speedy sprint up Via San Giuliano, symbolic of the strength and devotion of the statue bearers in spite of their heavy load. There is also a special stop on this final day on Via Crociferi bythe monastery of Benedictine nuns. The nuns come out to greet Sant’Agata and sing to her, which is especially unique because the nuns do not leave the monastery for the rest of the year.

The Feast of Sant’Agata is a very unique and special experience. During these three days, a collective energy unlike any other embraces the city. Worship, thankfulness, hope, devotion envelop all who participate and regardless your belief or religion, it is a truly spectacular and moving experience.