In Sicily there are different types of singing related to social, religious, and work life. Song and music, at least until the 1950s, used to fill the working day of men and women in Sicily. In the various activities that took place, in the fields, in the salt mines, at sea while fishing, workers used to mark the times of work with songs dedicated to the different moments of the work itself. Different workers have different musical expressions depending on the function of the song itself: songs can incite working, such as the wheat harvest in the fields, or can talk about the job in convivial and resting moments and relieve the boredom, such as for the carters’ songs. The transporters of goods who drove the carts along the Sicilian roads had their own specific repertoire of songs to use during the journey to ward off boredom and loneliness and, above all, to perform during rest stops by engaging in real competitions with other carritteri (cart drivers).

A canzuni a la carrittera is a song without music sung by the drivers of wagons for transporting goods. These songs can have different themes: love or disdain for the rejection of the beloved, religious thoughts dedicated to the Lord and the Saints or episodes related to working life. The type of song is characterised by virtuosity, especially in maintaining the duration of certain sounds in an explained voice. The poetic typology of the song is the strambotto: a single stanza between six and eight verses.

Carter’s job was born before the end of the 19th century, when cart roads were built in Sicily, and lasted until carts were replaced by modern means of transport. Carters transported goods in their own vehicles to the island’s markets facing long lonely journeys. During the journeys carters used to stop at fondaci: where they were able to rest and refresh themselves and their draft animals. Fondaci were therefore meeting places for carters. In these togetherness places they used to engage in singing competitions. Songs could end with a call to action, an invitation to another carter to demonstrate his singing art. Other locations in which they were showing their art were inside the towns, during private banquets or in cellars and taverns.

Bonanzinga S., La musica di tradizione orale in Lingue e culture in Sicilia in Ruffino G. (a cura di), Centro Studi Filologici e Linguistici Siciliani, Palermo, 2013, pp. 189-280
Bonanzinga S., Sortino. Suoni, voci e memorie della tradizione in Archivio sonoro siciliano - collana editoriale del CRICD (Archivio sonoro; 5), Regione Siciliana - Assesorato dei beni culturali, Eurografica, Palermo, 2008
Guggino E., I canti e la magia percorsi di una ricerca, Sellerio, Palermo 2004
Sorgi O. (a cura di), La canzone siciliana a Palermo: un’identità perduta, CRICD, Palermo, 2015
Archivio del Folklore italiano - Sicilia - Rai Teche (last visited 07/07/2022)
Cantori alla carrettiera, La Sicilia in rete (last visited 07/07/ 2022)
Enciclopedia Treccani (last visited 08/07/2022)
REIS - Libro delle espressioni - Cantori alla carrettiera (last visited 07/07/2022)
Canti alla carrittera in Sicilia - Intervista con relativa "prova" canora di uno dei pochi cantori alla carrettiera rimasti a Bagheria
E nni sta vanedda c’eni… - Folkstudio S09.2 - Nastroteca - Folkstudio/Raccolta 01-4c - Folkstudio Palermo-Fonoteca- documenti originali della tradizione - 1966/69'eni...._cut_part1.mp3
Supra na petri mi ivu assittari - Folkstudio S09.2 - Nastroteca - Folkstudio/Raccolta 01-4c - Folkstudio Palermo-Fonoteca- documenti originali della tradizione - 1966/69