Mickey and Friends at Disneyland Park

The Carretto Siciliano at Epcot

posted on July 1st, 2011 by Gene Duncan, Photographer, Walt Disney World Resort


Many of you have strolled along the beautiful Epcot promenade, traveling through pavilions that depict the many countries of World Showcase. It is a delightful way to immerse yourself in the cultures of so many distant lands without ever getting on an airplane. And you might have paused at the brightly painted Tutto Italia dessert cart and indulged in one of the scrumptious offerings of tiramisu, cannoli and other tasty bites.

The Carretto Siciliano at Epcot

But I doubt many of you realized at the time you were gazing at an authentic “carretto Siciliano,” or Sicilian donkey cart. Nothing represents Sicily’s culture more vividly than the exquisitely carved and painted cart. When the first roads were created in Sicily in the early 19th century, so began the colorful history of the Sicilian donkey cart, which were used to transport people, produce, wine and virtually anything else that needed transporting.

The Carretto Siciliano at Epcot

The carts were marvels of engineering and art, generally consisting of some 60 parts, all handcrafted by cartwrights, woodworkers, painters, ironsmiths and other skilled artisans. The creators passionately carved and painted elaborate scenes from history, often celebrating the exploits of Charlemagne’s knights or depicting scenes from famous operas like I Pagliacci.

The Carretto Siciliano at Epcot

Arguably, some of the most acclaimed cart painters of the last century are the Ducato Brothers of Bagheria, near Palermo. Three years ago, at age 80, Giuseppe Ducato was quoted as having painted the cart that now sits in Epcot. Ducato and his son are among the few artisans still producing this dying art. The art and craft of cart building has diminished greatly, beginning during the 1950s when motorized vehicles became abundant and eventually replaced the donkey cart as a means of transportation. Today, they can often be seen in local parades and celebrations.

Each cart had to be built to the size specifications of the donkey (or sometimes, horse) that was going to pull it, hence a reference to the old saying: “Don’t put the cart before the horse.”

Ciao.

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5 Comments

1

Dale from MD on July 1st, 2011 at 9:48 am

How interesting! I love all the detail of World Showcase — it’s our favorite part of Walt Disney World. I don’t know how I’ve missed this dessert cart, will definetely make a stop this October!

2

Mark on July 1st, 2011 at 1:23 pm

My wife and I love Disney World, especially Epcot. I always take loads of pictures when we go. We have a annual season pass. I created a special website called Tour of Epcot that has all of our photos on it. There is also videos and music as well. For a complete tour of Epcot with videos photographs and music visit our website at Google tour-of-epcot. You can take a virtual tour of the Epcot site. This is a really fun site that I am sure you will enjoy. You can explore the entire park and learn your way around. Its almost as good as being there.

3

cathy from PA on July 1st, 2011 at 2:27 pm

Hi,
I enjoyed reading the background of this cart. I have several photos of the cart but never realised it was a dessert cart.

4

Siobhan from NY on July 7th, 2011 at 10:42 am

How interesting! On our honeymoon in 1986, I had my picture taken with the donkey, and he sported a fancy tasseled bridle back then. I wonder what happened to it. As we return to WDW each year for our anniversary, I’ve had some updated photos taken with the donkey and cart, most recently this year for our 25th. Nice to get some background on the cart.

5

Deborah from PA on July 14th, 2011 at 7:43 am

Thank you for bringing this to my attention. I’ve been to WDW three times and don’t remember seeing this cart. Must look for it the next time!

5 Comments