Friday, December 19, 2008


To the large butcher's shop this morning to order duck. I have not tasted duck since I left Britain as you never see it on sale here but this butcher had told Irma that he will be stocking it next week. And behold, the butcher had had the bright idea of using a real, antique carretto siciliano as the centrepiece of his decorations. With his permission, I photographed it as best I could.

The Ancient Greeks brought the concept of a cart shaped in this way to the island but the painting of the vehicles did not begin until the second half of the nineteenth century, the purpose being to protect the wood from the sun and rain. The tradition continued into the early twentieth century and the painting became more and more ornate so that even when the carts were used by farm labourers, they showed off the wealth of the landowner. Scenes from folklore and legend were most often depicted and the red and yellow colours of Palermo's flag were frequently used. The cart in the butcher's shop was from Catania.

Sadly, nowadays the carts are found only in museums and, sadder still, the last traditional cart painter may very soon be forced to give up his trade. The various parts of the carts are now collectors' pieces, especially the plaque underneath the cart bearing the painter's name.

Back at the condominio, the water had run out again and the service is sospeso, says the Comune. [How can they suspend the public water system just before Christmas?!] So once again I, being the only person at home this afternoon, paid for a private water carrier to refill the cistern. The first co-tenant I saw after this event was my very own bank manager, whom I promptly asked for his 7 euro contribution. It was the first time in my life that I've been able to tell a bank manager that he owed me money and I revelled in the moment, reader!


Anne in Oxfordshire said...

Wow such an amazing display by the butcher, that is just stunning. Hope you get your duck!!

Love the story and the bank manager..hoped he paid up!! Just out of interest, do you get all your money back from the co-tenants? Why doesn't anyone else get the water, or is it purely because you are at home. Thank goodness that doesn't happen over here, can you imagine it!!

Anne in Oxfordshire said...

I have just read the story about the Sicilian Cart painter, such a sad story for everyone, especially him and his family. It makes me mad, he hasn't been doing any harm over the last 25 years so what is wrong with now!!!!!!! Let him be, and just let him get on with something that attracts tourism..arghhhhh

jmb said...

It looks like a wonderful treasure and how nice to see it displayed in the butcher's.
Good for you with the old banker. I hope you get everyone to pay up for the water and don't get stuck with the payment, even partially.

Cat said...

There's a cart museum in Palermo and I got some great pictures from it when I was there. I didn't see many around though - just on some of the celebrations - they are always a great sight to behold.

CherryPie said...

Enjoy your duck when it arrives :-)

I can imagine it was a wonderful feeling being able to tell your bank manager that :-)

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, Anne. So do I! Yes, he paid! I very rarely see any of the other co-tenants and you can't really ask them for the money 6 months later, so the answer is no. The capocondominio is supposed to be in charge of it but she asked me to see to it this time as she had to go out. I also phone the Comune once every 10 days to ask for a refill of the cistern. I don't think anyone would put up with all this over there! I agree with you re the cart painter: it's a typically exasperating, Sicilian situation: they want tourists on the one hand but bureaucracy intervenes on the other.
Hi, jmb. Yes, I thought it was an excellent idea for the butcher's display. Still waiting for the money from the others!
Ciao, cb. I've been to Palermo many times but never had time to go to the cart museum - I must fit it in.
Thanks, cherrypie. I did enjoy telling him!

jams o donnell said...

Wow I've not seen a cart like that before. Beautiful

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, jams. I think these carts are beautiful, too.


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