July 12, 2015

1737 ITALY (Sicily) - Opera dei Pupi, Sicilian puppet theatre (UNESCO ICH)

The Opera dei Pupi is a marionette theatrical representation of Frankish romantic poems such as the Song of Roland or Orlando furioso that is one of the characteristic cultural traditions of Sicily. The sides of donkey carts are decorated with intricate, painted scenes; these same tales are enacted in traditional puppet theaters featuring hand-made marionettes of wood. The opera of the puppets and the Sicilian tradition of cantastorî (singers of tales) are rooted in the Provençal troubadour tradition in Sicily during the reign of  Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor, in the first half of the 13th century.

This puppet theatre emerged in Sicily at the beginning of the 19th century and enjoyed great success among the island’s working classes. The puppeteers told stories based on medieval chivalric literature and other sources, such as Italian poems of the Renaissance, the lives of saints and tales of notorious bandits. The dialogues in these performances were largely improvised by the puppeteers. The two main Sicilian puppet schools in Palermo and Catania were distinguished principally by the size and shape of the puppets, the operating techniques and the variety of colourful stage backdrops.

Today, there are only a few troupes that maintain the tradition, which often perform for tourists. A great place to see this marionette art is the puppet theatres of Palermo. Unfortunately, the great historical families of marionnettists, such as the Greco of Palermo; the Canino of Cinisi; Crimi, Trombetta and Napoli of Catania, Pennisi and Macri of Acireale, Profeta of Licata, Gargano and Grasso of Agrigento. The richest collection of marionettes can be seen at the Museo Internazionale delle Marionette Antonio Pasqualino and at the Museo Etnografico Siciliano Giuseppe Pitrè in Palermo.

About the stamp

The stamp, dedicated to the Nordic World Ski Championships 2013 (Val di Fiemme / 20.02-03.03) and designed by Gaetano Ieluzzo, was issued on February 1, 2013. It depicts the outline of the mountains that surround the Val di Fiemme in the background, and a stylized illustration of athletes performing the Nordic skiing disciplines of ski jumping and cross-country skiing. At the top is the official logo of the championships. The words "Campionati del Mondo di Sci Nordico" (Nordic World Ski Championships), "ITALIA", and the denomination "0,85" complete the stamp.

This is a post for Sunday Stamps II-30, run by Violet Sky from See It On A Postcard. The theme of this week is: Sporting events. Click here to visit Violet’s blog and all the other participants.

Opera dei Pupi - Wikipedia
Opera dei Pupi, Sicilian puppet theatre - UNESCO official website

Sender: Daniele Pennisi (direct swap)
Sent from Zafferana Etnea (Sicily / Italy), on 12.03.2013
Photo: Salvatore Centorrino


  1. Having been in Norway for nearly 10 years in the 80s I got used to Nordic skiing so I appreciate your stamp.

  2. I'm not a skier, but Nordic skiing is one of my favourite Olympic sports to watch.