What do Sicilians drive when they’re not driving their Fiat Puntos?
It’s called a Carro Siciliano (Sicilian carriage) and dates back to… oh, goodness knows how long ago. Each successive invading culture added some extra detail and decoration to it: at a glance you can easily estimate how many times Sicily has been invaded!
When my husband was a kid they were still widely used to sell fruit and veg in the street – it’s only in the last 20 years or so that they have been replaced with motorised ape vans. In the Palermo area, some owners of these vans paint them in the traditional way; a yellow background, covered with all the beautiful pictures of the medieval knights from the legends of Orlando and the knights of Charlemagne, and some religious images included.
Nowadays these carriages are only used in processsions, and the town and village festivals that celebrate the local patron saint. Among a very small group of afficionados in Palermo, they are still used for racing. Yes, racing!
There are about three highly skilled craftsmen in Palermo who know how to make them, and continue crafting these works of art. When they pass away, they will truly become museum pieces and be made no more.