In Ragusa Ibla, an art workshop, the only one left to preserve the tradition of the Sicilian cart, chosen by Domenico and Stefano Gabbana for the living projects related to the “Siciliy is my love” collection.
Once upon a time the cart was the protagonist of the life of a Sicilian man, used to transport goods on horseback, gradually made more and more beautiful to attract customers as well as a social status, inextricably linked in its decoration to the marvelous chivalrous stories of the Paladins of France and the most fascinating legends of the island.
It is with the dream of making this tradition live forever that Damiano Rotella and Biagio Castilletti, sharing the same passion, decide to give life to a company, to date the only one in Italy, dedicated to the decoration and restoration of Sicilian carts.
Once the Sicilian cart dominated the streets screaming out loud its splendor and beauty. It is this tradition that, through our work, we want to make immortal.(Damiano & Biagio)
But there are no books or courses to learn this art which has always been handed down orally. Thus, they had to find a master and become apprentices in the workshop of the famous Domenico Di Mauro, working hard to understand all the secrets of this difficult art.
They succeed, started taking important commissions, and, in 2015, they are chosen by Dolce & Gabbana to take care of the painting of art appliances created by the fashion brand and Smeg. Success pushes them to dare even more so they contact the Baroness Arezzo di Donnafugata who, in her historic palace in the heart of Ibla, the old part of Ragusa, kept a perfectly preserved ancient carter’s workshop.
The “bottega” was in fact closed during the 19th century, but the Donnafugatas, in a very forward-looking way, had kept it as it was since then, waiting for a worthy heir to arrive and take over management.
Thus, in 2016 Damiano and Biagio reopened it and, right there, filming and photographs were taken for Dolce & Gabbana’s “Sicily is my love” collection, a tribute by the creative duo to their beloved Sicily. One of these photos was also used as a print on the shopping bags for the brand’s stores and, in the same period, they also decorated some pieces of furniture in Domenico Dolce’s personal villa.
For Cinabro Carrettieri it was the turning point: in 2017 the famous photographer Steve McCurry took a series of shots in the shop. One of these, entitled “Fiat Bambino”, starring Damiano leaning against a Fiat 500 decorated by them, becomes famous all over the world and in 2018 the car, which required 7 years of work, was exhibited in a museum in Messina.
Even today, everything in the workshop is like it used to be, including walls full of portraits of old master carters, Sicilian pupi and saints, as well as the colors used for the decorations, like jars of cinnabar (cinabro in Italian), from which the business takes its name, the pigment that gave life to the most beautiful of reds, which speaks of passion, pride, courage, just like the Sicilian carts.
Damiano and Biagio also conduct training courses and, truly unmissable, guided tours in the shop.
There are many cool objects decorated by Damiano and Biagio and, among the most famous ones, we find the beautiful Bialetti Moka made in collaboration with Dolce & Gabbana, boasting bright colors, the baroque decorations typical of Sicilian carts, and an elegant handle in Walnut wood, the material that is used for the sides and the curves of the wheels of the carts.
Guided tours from 6 euro