This magnificent Sicilian cart (carretto in Italian) is without question one of the most beautiful pieces in the collections of the Canadian Museum of Civilization. It was brought from Italy by Joseph Pillitteri in 1962, when he left Sicily to settle in the region around Niagara Falls.
The decorated cart is an excellent example of a tradition that can be traced back to 1200 B.C., introduced into Sicily by the ancient Greeks. For Mr. Pillitteri it also has a more personal significance, since his father was a carter.
In Sicily the carretto served as a sort of history book for those unable to read. By adorning it with paintings of historical events, the facts of those events were communicated to posterity.
This type of cart often depicted scenes from Greek history. Mr. Pillitteri's cart, which was made in 1949, has images relating to the Crusades in the Holy Land, the wars of Charlemagne and his brave knight Roland, as well as episodes from the history of the owner's ancestors.
Sicilian carrettos are brought out for public parades and festivals. Mr. Pillitteri's cart has been a part of numerous festivals in the St. Catharines/Niagara region. In particular, it appeared in parades associated with the St. Catharines wine festivals held in the early 1980s.