Experience Sicily's Fascinating Puppet Theatres

When you're taking a young family on holidays to Sicily, it usually isn't too long before you come across (typically, quite by accident) a very captivating aspect of the local culture: that of the "pupari". The art of puppeteering has actually been a popular regional folk culture since the 15th century, and I've found enchanting "opera deipupi" in the most unanticipated times and places in my journeys around the island.


Sicily's Marionettes


Becoming their more modern-day kind around the 18th century, although described frequently as puppets, the Sicilian pupi are in fact marionettes-- which means they're managed by a series of strings rather than fitting over the hand. Carved from wood and adorned with cloth and metal armor and accessories, the production of the marionettes is an art form in itself.

There are still a variety of conventional artisans that produce the Sicilian marionettes, using age-old approaches. To give you a concept of the work included, one marionette's armor can consist of up to 35 individual parts, which then have to be assembled-- and that's not to discuss the puppet itself!


Over the centuries, those experienced in the trade generally pass their proficiency down to a member of the family and some names have ended up being associated with marionette making. In Palermo, for instance, the Colicchio's and the Pasqualino are renowned as being among the world's finest artisans in the trade.


The Prehistoric Stories They Tell


The majority of the stories enacted by the marionette theaters still illustrate tales from medieval history and legend. They consist of those of the Charlemagne knights and their fights with the Saracens, the Norman knights, and the often-comedic romantic escapades of the Paladins, Orlando and also Rinaldo, as they fight for the love of the beautiful Angelica. In current times, the stories have actually progressed to include a few of the most contemporary tales of the Sicilian upper class.


While initially developed as home entertainment for kids, the conventional stories typically include extremely adult themes in concerns to the nobility, the church and the feudal society from which they came from.


The Renowned Pupari of Palermo


While there is opera diepupi in essentially every city and town around the island, if you're visiting Palermo on your vacations to Sicily, not only will you discover one of the most renowned, children will also fall for the wonderful museum entirely committed to the topic.


Cuticchio Puppet Theatre


Located at Via Bara all' Olivella 95, right in the heart of Palermo, this fantastic old opera deipupi has been a labor of love by the Cuticchio household for generations. Not just do they stage the detailed productions (incredibly, it's all enacted by simply four puppeteers), they also handcraft the marionettes in the traditional way.


Checking out the theater is an experience in and of itself, and the minute you get in it's as if you've taken a huge leap back to medieval times. I constantly discover it such an enjoyment to see the rapt expressions on the kids' faces and, even though the entire production remains in Italian (Sicilian dialect), you really do not require to comprehend the language to experience the magic.


Antonio Pasqualino Museo


Mentioning magic, the Pasqualino International Marionette Museum provides its own type of appeal-- revealing an interesting insight into the history and workmanship of the pupi. Located on the 2nd floor at Via Butera 1, the museum is house to over 3,000 marionettes and shadow puppets, in their various shapes, sizes and kinds, from all over the entire world-- as far afield as Japan, Poland, Indonesia, and Cambodia.


As being able to get up close to the puppets, the museum manages its own opera deipupi, with everyday shows, as well as seminars in puppet making and different discussions and occasions.