Donkey Italiano

Guests strolling the World Showcase promenade at Epcot are likely to notice this colorful cart just outside the Italy pavilion, if only as a stop for a refreshing Italian ice or gelato on a steamy Florida afternoon. It's here for a reason, though, to represent part of the cultural heritage of Italy.

This is a traditional Sicilian donkey cart, or carrettu Sicilianu, much like those typically used in the early 20th century on the island of Sicily (the roughly-triangular bit of land just off the "boot" of Italy). Carts like these were often used to carry everything from produce and wine to passengers into the village market. The most colorful examples also found their way into local parades and other festive occasions.

The dominant reds and yellows come from the Sicilian flag, while the ornate carvings and colorful painted scenes depict historical figures and events. For the Sicilian people, it was a way of celebrating and passing down their history. In modern Sicily, the donkeys have been replaced by motorized vehicles, but they're still painted in the traditional way, keeping that heritage alive for generations to come.

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