People who makes the traditional carts

People who makes the traditional carts

[Sept. 2022] After visiting the Baron’s family in Ragusa Ibla, a historic town in Sicily, Baron Arezzo took us to a traditional cart workshop.

Damiano, the painter of the traditional cart in his workshop in Ragusa, Sicily
the painter, Damiano with the light makeup like a puppet in a show

This workshop, Cinabro Carrettieri, is the final stop of the tour.

There are various unique cultures in Sicily, and this flashy cart called Carreto Siciliano is one of them.

They say that horse-drawn carts with elaborate patterns on the streets were a kind of status symbol, and it was at its peak in the early 20th century.

This workshop is still making these traditional carts in the traditional way.

A 38-year-old man named Damiano, now one of only six remaining craftsmen, showed us around.

a carpenter of the traditional cart maker, Cinabro in Ragusa, Sicily
a taciturn man who makes the carts

He had a moustache and a light make-up that reminded me of a character in a puppet show we saw a few days before.

He is the painter and another man, Biagio cuts and carves wood to make carts, and they run this business together.

Biagio was just an unadorned, taciturn man.

According to Damiano, it takes a whole year to make a big Carretto.

The important part that is equivalent to the engine has a complicated decoration, and apparently it makes a clattering sound when it moves.

the detail of the traditional cart in the workshop in Ragusa, Sicily
the part, equivalent to engine makes some noise

It is said that in the past, hearing the sound, people would come out of their houses and see the carts pass by.

Carrettos are now only decorative, but you can find them all over Sicily.

In the town of Syracuse where we stayed, we also saw one in front of a cafe.

Damiano seems to be quite a go-getter, and the fashion brand Dolce & Gabbana is one of his clients.

In addition to working on some furniture for Domenico Dolce‘s villa, a photo of this workshop was used for Dolce & Gabbana’s shopping bag.

a wall in the workshop of Cinabro, the cart maker in Ragusa, Sicily
this area of the workshop was photographed and used for the shopping bags of D&G

Certainly, the appearance of this workshop, where the tools are placed in a jumbled mess and the walls are decorated with pictures and photographs, is photogenic.

Smeg, an Italian consumer electronics maker, is also a customer, and toasters and others with flashy pictures like those for Carretto were made.

Damiano also drew a picture like this on the old Fiat 500 and said that it has become a hot topic.

The American photographer Steve McCurry, who took the world-famous photo “Afghan Girl”, came and took pictures of this car and Damiano himself.

This Fiat 500 is currently on display at a museum in Messina in north eastern Sicily.

the traditional Sicilian cart seen in Syracuse
the cart on display at a cafe in Syracuse

In this workshop which is full of topics like above, Damiano, who seemed good at marketing with a slightly theatrical appearance, is probably the key here.

This is an industry that is unlikely to survive on rarity value alone.

As of now, apparently no one seems to be following in their footsteps.