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Opera dei Pupi is the traditional marionette theatre of Southern Italy and Sicily. Opera dei Pupi dates back to the third decade of the 19th century and has received particular success with the popular classes, becoming one of the most significant expressions of historical memory and of the cultural identity of Sicily. It was proclaimed by UNESCO to be a masterpiece of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity in 2001.


Each stage of Opera dei Pupi (Opra î Pupi in Palermo, Opira î Pupi in Catania) corresponds to a family of puppeteers or a company that you can get to know, listen to, and see at work while performing a show or building a pupo: all while telling you about the family history that brings us into the world of the Opera dei Pupi, a living expression of the territory.

Each stage and family correspond to different places: theatres or artisan workshops where often the puppeteers exhibit the family crafts. However there are also museums and collections, live places to discover what the Opera dei Pupi was, where to discover a “mestiere” or complete set (collections) or know the entire panorama of the Opera dei Pupi (Museums) also in relation to UNESCO, where to confront the efforts made and challenges to be faced to safeguard it, where the Opera dei Pupi can be discussed and compared to other works in artistic, theatrical and musical fields.

Places distributed throughout the regional territory, in cities, highly touristic towns and neighbourhoods, countrysides and neighbourhoods outside the mainstream that offer an unpublished image of Sicily or allows us to look at it under a different lens.

An itinerary that invites you to discover the territory through listening to its voices, vision and experience of the show, respecting its rhythms and times, and through the exploration of its geography designed in a sustainable way.

The Opera dei Pupi[edit]

The puppeteers, which make up the patrimonial community of the Opera dei Pupi, are depositary of a vast and complex heritage that is still transmitted today by a master to a student, both within the family and outside. The transmission of this heritage takes place within the companies and artisan laboratories primarily through listening and observation of the teacher by the young apprentice. The puppeteers - in Sicily also called "Opranti", "Teatrinari" - manage the theatre, organize the show, and animate the puppets.

They paint the scenes and the signs, and sometimes they build the Pupi.

Pupi, signs, scenes and scenic objects constitute the craft of the company, that is that set of objects necessary for the staging of the show. Often today the companies exhibit family crafts in their theatres or laboratories - which often include historical objects, made by their fathers and grandparents.

The Sicilian Opera House of Puppets has two different variants: the "Palermitana" school, in Western Sicily, and the "Catanese", in eastern Sicily. They differ in some aspects of mechanics and figurative and for certain subjects.

When to go[edit]

The experience according to the itinerary can be made at any time of the year. Museums and collections are open all year round while detailed information on the programming of the shows can be requested to the companies through the contacts provided. Many companies carry out shows and educational workshops by reservation for groups of visitors and/or schools. Some have more regular programming on an annual basis.

A good time is also when exhibitions and festivals take place. Among the exhibitions dedicated to the Opera dei Pupi, as well as Italian, foreign, traditional and contemporary theatre, we note:

The Morgana Festival (Palermo, Autumn): it is the oldest annual exhibition of the territory dedicated to the Opera dei Pupi and the “Theatre of Figure”(?). It takes place every year in autumn (usually in November) in the ancient historic district of Kalsa and is one of the events of great touristic interest of the Sicilian region. It is organised by the International Marionette Museum Antonio Pasqualino in Palermo in collaboration with numerous international institutes.

Over time, other festivals were added, including:

“Dream machine” (Palermo, summer): Born in 1984 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Giacomo Cuticchio, the festival initially focused on the Opera dei Pupi, soon expanded its gaze towards other performative practices: cunto and oral narrative, street theatre and theatre "without labels and distinctions of genres". It is organised by the cultural association "Cuticchio children of art" (Figli d’arte Cuticchio);

San Martino Puppet Fest (Syracuse, Autumn): a very recent festival, born in 2018, tending towards a younger audience, but not exclusively: "The theatre, and in this case the theatre of figure and of puppets, represents a driving force for the development of the conditions necessary for formative growth in children". It is organised by the company of the Vaccaro-Mauceri Pupari. and takes place in the period of San Martino, tying the two Christian festivities: the day of the dead and the festival of the Saint.

Who is it for?[edit]

The itinerary of the Opera dei pupi is aimed at every type of audience. Young and old can discover the Opera dei Pupi through direct exchange with companies, traditional theatrical performances and innovation for all ages, educational laboratories and visits to museums and collections.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

  • Palermo-Punta Raisi Airport (Falcone e Borsellino Airport, IATA: PMO), +39 0917020273. The airport is connected to the city centre by the metropolitan train service.  National and international arrivals and departures, with frequent daily flights to and from Rome Fiumicino, Milan Linate and Malpensa.  The airport, about 35 km from Palermo, is served by the Prestia and Comandé bus lines (, with the last stop at the Central Station and stops at various points in the city;  buses also to and from Trapani (, Catania (
  • Catania "Vincenzo Bellini" Airport (Vincenzo Bellini Airport, IATA: PMO), +39 095 723 9111. National and international arrivals and departures with daily flights to and from Milan Linate, Malpensa, Bergamo and Rome Fiumicino.  The airport, about 5 km from the centre of Catania, is connected to the city by the Alibus urban car line (  Bus services connect the airport with many municipalities, including in other provinces, as well (,,;  bus lines for Messina and Palermo (  Catania-Fontanarossa Airport
  • Comiso Airport "Pio La Torre" (Comiso Airport), +39 095 723 9111. National and international arrivals and departures with daily flights to and from Milan Linate, Malpensa, Bergamo and Rome Fiumicino.  The airport, about 5 km from the centre of Catania, is connected to the city by the Alibus urban car line (  Bus services connect the airport with many municipalities, including in other provinces, as well (,,;  bus lines for Messina and Palermo (  
  • Trapani-Birgi Airport "Vincenzo Florio" (Trapani-Birgi Airport «Vincenzo Florio»), +39 095 723 9111. National and international arrivals and departures with daily flights to and from Milan Linate, Malpensa, Bergamo and Rome Fiumicino .  The airport, about 5 km from the centre of Catania, is connected to the city by the Alibus urban car line (  Bus services connect the airport with many municipalities, including in other provinces, as well (,,;  bus lines for Messina and Palermo (  

By boat[edit]

  • For Palermo from Genoa, Civitavecchia, Naples with Grandi Navi Veloci (, which also manage the routes from Civitavecchia and Naples to Tèrmini Imerese;
  • From Livorno to Palermo and from Salerno to Catania with Grimaldi Lines (;
  • From Naples and Cagliari with Tirrenia (

By train[edit]

To reach Sicily by train we recommend:

  • Intercity from Rome or Milan to Messina.
  • Or an Express train from Turin, Genoa, Milan, Venice, Bologna, Florence, or Naples to Villa San Giovanni where you can board for free for the Strait of Messina and continue with regional connections to the chosen Sicilian city.

By car[edit]

From Palermo:

  • The A29 connects Palermo with Trapani and Mazara del Vallo.
  • The A20 connects Palermo with Messina (section with toll)
  • The A19 connects Palermo (on the A20) with Catania serving Enna and part of the interior.

From Messina:

  • The A18 connects Messina with Catania ( with toll fee)

From Catania:

  • The A18 connects Catania with Syracuse
  • The state road SS 115 Sud Occidentale Sicula connects Trapani to Syracuse.


Map of Itinerary of the Opera dei Pupi

Northwest coast[edit]


Antonio Pasqualino International Puppet Museum
  • 1 Antonio Pasqualino International Puppet Museum, Piazzetta Antonio Pasqualino, 5 - 90133, . Tu-Sa 10:00-18:00; Su M 10:00-14:00.. The museum was founded in 1975 by the Association for the Conservation of Popular Traditions of Palermo. It is located in the former Hôtel de France with a collection of over 5,000 works from all over the world which makes it undoubtedly the largest and most complete collection existing today. As a part of the Museum's new production there is also the theatre with a program of daily opera dei pupi performances, and organization of the Morgana Festival in autumn and Teatro al Museo, annually. The opera dei pupi shows are staged every day, from Tuesday to Saturday at 17:00; to Monday at 11:00.
Compagnia Famiglia Argento
Compagnia Famiglia Argento
  • 2 Compagnia Famiglia Argento (Teatro e laboratorio), Via Pietro Novelli 1/a - 90134, +39 0916113680, +39 3391322779, +39 3491353267. The Agramante Cultural Association was founded in 1999 by Vincenzo Argento. The Agramante Theatre is located in front of the Cathedral of Palermo. The grandfather, Don Cecè had been a worker and sculptor of pupi heads since 1893. It is said that in 1912 at the end of a show, Giuseppe, one of his children, was born right on the stage, which was perhaps a premonitory sign of destiny because later Giuseppe became an oprante. After him, Vincenzo Argento took over the reins of the company which is led today by the youngest generation of his children and his nephew.
  • 3 The craft workshop famiglia Argento, via Vittorio Emanuele, 445 – 90134, +39 0916113680, +39 0916113680, +39 3391322779, +39 3491353267. Call to find out if the master is in the shop. The artisan workshop is located a few steps from the theatre. It is not unusual to meet Vincenzo at work, amongst puppets, armour, and wooden frames but still, in order to visit the workshop is better to call.
Palazzo Branciforte
Palazzo Branciforte
  • 4 Giacomo Cuticchio Senior Collection - Palazzo Branciforte (Collection), Largo Gae Aulenti, 2, 90133, +39 0918887767, +39 0917657621, . Mar-Oct: Tu-Su 09:30-19:30; Nov-Feb: 09:30-14:30. The Palace exhibits several prestigious collections such as the archaeological, philatelic, numismatic collections and the library. Since 2015, 109 pupi and other props from the Giacomo Cuticchio Senior Collection have also been located here. The foundation's archives also hold a rich collection of Giacomo's scripts. An original and also rare element is the presence of circus puppets that the knight Giacomo inherited from the Greco family.
Company "Franco Cuticchio" Sons of Art
Company "Franco Cuticchio" Sons of Art
  • 5 Company "Franco Cuticchio" Sons of Art (Theatre), Via dei Benedettini 9, 90134, +39 3515490399, . To find out the calendar of the shows, call or write an email. The Cultural Association Franco Cuticchio Sons of Art was born in 2013, on the initiative of Franco, the third son of Girolamo (1933), younger brother of the knight Giacomo Cuticchio (1917) and his pupil. He collaborated with him from the age of ten, to make his debut alone, a few years later. Franco has been active on the stage since the age of five, when he embarked on his long apprenticeship as tradition dictates: giving voice to an angel. At the age of eight he obtained the role of second oprante and began to follow his father assiduously in all his shows, both in the theatre and off-site. Today his two children, Girolamo and Helenia, and his father Girolamo collaborate with him as honorary president of the Association. Franco is also dedicated to the construction of the structures and stage machinery, to sculpture and wood carving and to the construction of the puppets' armour. At the end of 2019 Franco reopened the doors of the family theatre, purchased by Girolamo in the 1980s and closed after more than ten years of activity for bureaucratic and administrative issues. The theatre is a few steps from the Church of San Giovanni degli Eremiti and the Royal Palace and also exhibits some of the materials of the family trade. Teatro dell'opera dei pupi (theatre). (To find out the calendar of the shows, call or write an email).
  • 6 Craft workshop Compagnia “Franco Cuticchio” Figlio d’Arte (Theatre), Via Porta di Castro, 273. Craft workshop (theatre). To find out if the puppeteers are at work, call or write an email.
Company Brigliadoro by Salvatore Bumbello
Company Brigliadoro by Salvatore Bumbello
  • 7 Company Brigliadoro by Salvatore Bumbello (Laboratory), via Barbaraci, 9 - 90134, +39 3475995278, . The Brigliadoro company was founded in 2015 by Salvatore Bumbello, puppet maker and oprante from Palermo. It was his father Luciano, a pupil of Francesco Sclafani, who taught him the art. Thus, at the age of ten, Salvatore created his first puppet, modelled the armour and embossed it. Over the years Salvatore has combined his activity as a craftsman with that of oprante, training alongside well-known opranti from Palermo. The prolonged collaboration with the Pasqualino Museum has allowed him to expand the repertoire through the programming of cycles of annual performances. The company keeps a travelling theatre and about three hundred works, both inherited from his father Luciano and recently made. The shop in via Barbaraci, behind the Academy of Fine Arts in the historic Capo district, is still a place for the construction of puppets and for the transmission of traditional techniques and knowledge. It houses the tools and models that Salvatore inherited from his father and which still work tirelessly today for his handcrafted creations. The craft workshop. (To make sure Salvatore is in the lab write an email or call him on the phone). The Brigliadoro company performs every day at the Pasqualino Museum where it also carries out educational workshops. The shows are staged every day: Tu-Sa 17:00; M 11:00.
Mimmo Cuticchio
Mimmo Cuticchio
  • 8 Company Sons of Art Cuticchio by Mimmo Cuticchio (theatre), Via Bara all’Olivella 95, 90133, +39 091323400, . The Associazione Figli d'Arte Cuticchio (1977) incorporates the company of the same name that since 1973 performed at the S. Rosalia puppet theatre founded in Palermo in via Bara all'Olivella by Mimmo Cuticchio, the eldest of the sons of the knight Giacomo Cuticchio (1917-1985). Pupil of opranti Achille Greco and Gaetano Meli. The latter interrupted his activity in the mid-20th century due to the crisis that hit the opera dei pupi. Shortly after, however, he opened a new theatre and, moving from venue to venue, he finally reached via dell’Orologio. His younger brother Girolamo and his sons Nino, Mimmo and Guido learned the art from him. His wife Pina Patti and their son Nino painted the scenes and signs. In 1967, after the experience in Paris with his father, Mimmo decided to go on his own and, while the knight returned to Sicily, he remained in the French capital to direct a puppet theatre in the Latin quarter. Upon returning, Mimmo joined Peppino Celano, puppeteer and cuntista, from whom he learned the cuntu technique and set up the company "Sons of Art Cuticchio", together with the brothers Nino, Guido and Anna. In 1973 he opened the Teatro dei Pupi S. Rosalia in Palermo in Via Bara all'Olivella n. 95, still active today. In 1975 he collaborated with the Antonio Pasqualino Museum performing on the occasion of the exhibition of the Opera dei pupi. Mimmo Cuticchio profoundly renovates the Opera dei Pupi theatre, first of all by letting the puppets come out of the small stage and freeing them into the immense space of the contemporary and avant-garde theatre scene; in parallel he expands the repertoire adapting it to the demands of mainstream cultural institutions with operas and performances for anniversaries and official anniversaries. Mimmo Cuticchio received the Ubu 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award. The puppet opera house. The shows are staged on Saturdays and Sundays at 18:30. The company offers both traditional shows and innovative and mixed media shows. The theatre offers a regular schedule of shows that can be enjoyed all year round. On-site and off-site shows are also hosted as part of the festival The machine of dreams. It is also possible to discover the family trade both on site and through a virtual tour.
Compagnia Carlo Magno, Mancuso Family
Compagnia Carlo Magno, Mancuso Family
  • 9 Compagnia Carlo Magno, Mancuso Family (Theatre - Laboratory), via Collegio di Maria, 17 - 90139 (Borgo Vecchio district), +39 347579225, . The Charlemagne theatrical cultural association was born due to the initiative of Enzo Mancuso, a descendant of the puppet family of the same name who started his own business in Palermo in 1928, by the will of the knight Antonino Mancuso. A pupil of Giovanni Pernice, he began to be an assistant at the age of ten, and after military service and marriage, he acquired a complete profession and set up his own business. To cope with the crisis of the mid-twentieth century, Antonino set up a travelling theatre on top of a truck to represent the shows in the city districts and in the villages and created a theatre-cabinet where he animated smaller puppets to perform in private homes. In the 1990s the baton passed into the hands of Enzo, who collaborated with Mimmo Cuticchio and with the Pasqualino Museum where he performed every day for many years, expanding the repertoire. Opened in 2003, the theatre-laboratory is located in the historic Borgo Vecchio district. The company has a regular program of shows and, on the day of the show, it is also possible to visit the workshop from the morning. The Charlemagne Theatre and artisan workshop. (To find out the calendar of the shows visit the site, call, or write an email. On the day of the show, it is possible to visit the workshop in the morning). The company has a regular program of shows throughout the year.
  • 10 Giuseppe Pitré Sicilian Ethnographic Museum Collection (Collection), Viale Duca degli Abruzzi, 1, 90146, +39 0917401111, . Tu-Su 09:00-17:30. The collection of the Opera dei pupi of the Giuseppe Pitrè Sicilian Ethnographic Museum includes more than 200 works from Palermo and largely dates back to the second half of the 19th century. The first nucleus of the collection was collected directly by Giuseppe Pitrè and was exhibited in the pavilion of the Sicilian Ethnographic Exhibition, on the occasion of the National Exhibition of 1891-92. When, at the end of the exhibition, Pitrè transferred the collections to the Assunta school premises in via Maqueda, where the first exhibition of the museum took place, he probably had to acquire other materials from the Opera dei pupi, of which, however, there is no precise information. What is certain is that, on the death of Pitrè, in 1916, the collection was kept together with the others and probably forgotten while waiting for new premises, until, in 1934, when Giuseppe Cocchiara took over the new direction of the Ethnographic Museum. The history of the museum alternates periods of closure and reopening to the public. Today, after the definitive reopening of the museum in the original site of the Favorita park, the new exhibition dedicates a room to the Opera dei pupi with a theatre complete with benches, posters and twenty restored puppets. In the large room of the stables where the carts have been placed, there is the pediment of the oldest theatre, that of the 1891-92 Exhibition.


Angelo Sicilia's Popular Sicilian Marionette Cultural Association
Angelo Sicilia's Popular Sicilian Marionette Cultural Association
  • 11 Angelo Sicilia's Popular Sicilian Marionette Cultural Association (Teatro - Mestiere), Piazza Casphonelo, +39 0918815666, . Founded in 2001 by the will of the artistic director Angelo Sicilia, the company started a path of renewal of the repertoire of the puppet opera and proposes shows that combine the stories of the chivalrous repertoire with recent events. It stands out for the cycle of the "anti-mafia" opera dei pupi that brings to the stage the events of Peppino Impastato, Pino Puglisi, Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino. This is how the expressive and communicative power of traditional puppets is suggestively put at the service of shows of civil commitment. Set (mestiere) at the Castle La Grua Talamanca di Carini. (Tu-Su 09:00-13:00, 15:00-19:00. Closed Monday). Since 2016, the company has exhibited its set in Carini inside the Castle which houses an anti-mafia room dedicated to Ninni Cassarà and Roberto Antiochia, policemen killed by the mafia in 1985.




  • 13 Nino Canino Collection - Real Cantina Borbonica (Collezione), Via Principe Umberto, 312, 90047, +39 3341484944, . Nino Canino was the last member of the historic puppet family considered among the founders of the puppet opera in Palermo. He passed away in 2015. The progenitor was, in 1828, Don Liberto Canino, whose theatre was the second to open in Palermo, after that of Gaetano Greco. Changes to the mechanics of the puppets and the first metal armour are attributed to him. He was the father and teacher of Luigi Canino (active in Alcamo and Buenos Aires) and of Nino Canino (1870), active in Partinico. In 1949, his nephew, also named Nino (1929), set up his own business performing in various Sicilian municipalities and in 1955 he returned to Partinico, however, also performing around the world. After his death, the daughters, with the Nino Canino Cultural Association, safeguard the family heritage, exhibiting the puppets inside the Real Cantina Borbonica in Partinico, where it is available for guided tours by appointment, in temporary off-site exhibitions and in educational activities for the younger generation. The collection includes the historical puppets of great-grandfather Nino Canino, the scenes, the handwritten scripts and some pieces of armour made by the ancestor Don Liberto Canino. To these materials is then added a substantial number of puppets, armed and in page, built by Nino Canino. To the puppets and the scenes are also added tools and the models and tools with which Nino Canino built his puppets.


Cultural Association Opera dei Sicilian puppets "Gaspare Canino" by Salvatore Oliveri
Cultural Association Opera dei Sicilian puppets "Gaspare Canino" by Salvatore Oliveri
  • 14 Cultural Association Opera dei Sicilian puppets "Gaspare Canino" by Salvatore Oliveri (theatre), via Sant’Ippolito, 16/c - 91011, fax: +39 3491062418. For information, call or write an email. The company was founded in 1977 by Salvatore Oliveri, grandson of Gaspare Canino. The progenitor was Liberto Canino, considered one of the initiators of the Opera dei pupi in Palermo. Around 1830 Liberto Canino opened his first theatre in the historical neighbourhood of the Albergheria in Palermo. It was a Luigi who, having learned the trade, decided to move to Alcamo at the end of the 19th century. Of Luigi's five children, only two would become puppeteers: Guglielmo, who moves to Sciacca, and Gaspare, who stayed in Alcamo. After Gaspare's death in 1977, the Opera dei pupi was no longer performed in Alcamo and in the province of Trapani, until in the 1990s his nephew Salvatore Oliveri opened a new theatre. The puppet opera house. The theatre of the company is located inside the Castle of the Counts of Modica di Alcamo and hosts shows (also on request) and educational workshops.

North east coast[edit]


Company "Opera dei pupi Messina Gargano
Company "Opera dei pupi Messina Gargano
  • 15 Company "Opera dei pupi Messina Gargano (Laboratory), Contrada Rotonda n°2 - Tremestieri, +39 3473719711. reservation only. Originally from Acireale, the Gargano family began operating in Messina in the early 20th century. The progenitor is Venerando Gargano who, although of bourgeois origin, manages to cultivate his passion for paladins. He began to collect and then to build puppets and stage shows in his chair factory. His son, Don Rosario, at the age of seventeen wrote a work that would become the distinctive element of the Gargano family: the story of Bellisario da Messana. In 1912 Rosario was called to Messina by the puppeteer Ninì Calabrese to lend his voice to his puppets and in 1920 he opened his own theatre. In 1964, however, a serious fire destroyed it, creating a period of crisis. Since 2000, the company has been led by Venerando and the brothers Giorgio and Rosaria. The headquarters of the Association houses the family craft workshop where it is possible to observe some of the materials of the "mestiere", of which the collection of antique manuscript scripts is precious. By reservation only, it is possible to visit the laboratory and organise presentation meetings of the company and the history and peculiarities of the puppet opera in Messina. The company performs in shows at other venues. Craft workshop. The headquarters of the Association houses the family craft workshop where it is possible to observe some of the materials of the "mestiere", of which the collection of antique handwritten scripts is precious. It is possible to visit the laboratory and organise presentation meetings of the company and the history and peculiarities of the puppet opera in Messina. The company performs in shows at other venues.
  • 16 Ninì Cocivera Collection - Peloritani Museum of Culture and Popular Music in Villaggio Gesso (Collection), Via Basiliani, villaggio Gesso, - 98153, +39 3388565063, . Sunday 10:30-12:30; other days it opens by reservation. Founded in 1996, the Peloritani Museum of Culture and Popular Music is an interdisciplinary ethnographic reality. In the collection of demo-ethno-anthropological goods, popular musical instruments stand out, “sound producers”, used in different contexts, from work to devotional-ceremonial. The museum also houses a large collection of agro-pastoral artefacts for daily use and a collection of terracotta, ceremonial and carnival masks. The collection of puppets kept by the Museum belonged to Ninì Cocivera from Messina who, by type, repertoire and maneuver, is assimilated to the most rooted work of the puppets of the Catania area. In addition to the puppets, the Museum houses placards and billboards and other iconographic repertoires relating to the revival of the epic chivalric imagery on Sicilian transport carts and a rare example of the volume in two volumes of the History of Guida Santo, published in installments in the early twentieth century in Catania area and bound in those same years by Letterio Greco, a passionate Messina lover of chivalric epic.


  • 17 Collection of the Opera dei pupi di Randazzo (Collection). Daily 09:30-13:00. Opened in 1998 in a former municipal slaughterhouse, it houses a collection of 39 puppets built between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries by historical puppeteers of the Catania school. The collection is part of a profession of the early twentieth century now dismembered, which belonged to Ninì Calabrese. The collection, which seems to belong entirely to the same family, consisting of 39 puppets, was purchased by the Municipality of Randazzo in two different moments. The busts of the puppets are older (some even from the late nineteenth century) and some pieces of armour are the work of Puddu Maglia, the most famous coppersmith in the Catania area. Almost all the heads were sculpted and painted by Emilio Musmeci. Emilio Musmeci was a very skilled sculptor of heads, builder of armour, speaker and for some periods manager of the theatre, as well as a painter of scenes and signs. The headquarters of the Association houses the family craft workshop where it is possible to observe some of the materials of the "trade", of which the collection of ancient handwritten scripts is precious. By reservation only, it is possible to visit the laboratory and organise presentation meetings of the company and the history and peculiarities of the puppet opera in Messina. The company performs in shows at other venues.

Geraci Siculo[edit]

  • 18 Ignazio Buttitta Foundation Collection - Geraci Siculo Popular Arts Gallery (Collection). Tu-Sa 10:00-18:00; Su M 10:00-14:00. The Ignazio Buttitta Foundation has a collection of popular art and culture that is enriched with materials related to the puppet work, the result of the donation that Antonino Buttitta made to the Foundation on the occasion of its establishment but also of subsequent acquisitions. The collection includes about 60 Neapolitan puppets of the 19th and 20th centuries, 30 Sicilian puppets of the 19th and 20th centuries (mostly coming from the profession of Rocco Lo Bianco), various scenes of the Neapolitan and Sicilian puppet theatre to which 3 Palermo puppets have been added more recently depicting Uggeri the Danese, Rodomonte and Clorinda made by Salvatore Bumbello and Gaetano Lo Monk. Some of these materials are exhibited at the Gallery of Sicilian Popular Arts set up by the Buttitta Foundation in 2011 at the former Capuchin Convent of Geraci Siculo.

South-eastern Sicily[edit]


Fratelli Napoli Puppet Company
Fratelli Napoli Puppet Company
  • 19 Fratelli Napoli Puppet Company (Laboratorio), Via Reitano, 55, +39 3470954526, . The Marionettistica Fratelli Napoli was born thanks to Don Gaetano Napoli who founded the company in 1921, when he inaugurated the Etna Theatre in Catania, in the Cibali district. From then until 1973 the Napoli family carried out an intense activity in the popular theatres of the neighborhood, working with the historical craft. Starting from the years of the crisis, under the leadership of Natale and Italia Chiesa Napoli, the company worked to adapt the Catania Opira to the contemporary public and, taking advantage of Nino Amico's suggestions, in 1973 began to use the "small puppets'' that , reduced in size but the same in mechanics and in the figurative aspect, they allow the company to face the crisis and approach a new and diversified audience. In 1931 the Marionettistica dei Fratelli Napoli received, ex aequo with the puppeteer Nino Insanguine, the highest recognition in the First regional challenge of Sicilian puppets; in 1978 the Dutch Royals awarded him the Praemium Erasmianum, which "crowns people and institutions that have enriched European culture by their activities". Craft workshop: Antique workshop of the Naples Brothers. In addition to the staging of the shows, the company is engaged in the creation of puppets, scenes and signs inside the antique family house-shop, which is located in the historic centre of Catania, near the Ursino Castle and the Pescheria market. From the time of Gaetano Napoli to today, the "knowledge of the hand" and the rules of trade that allow the creation of all the artistic handicraft objects linked to tradition are handed down from generation to generation. The house-shop also hosts seminars, workshops and guided tours of the Catania Opira, also by appointment, for school groups and tourists. The company performs in the theatre in various locations in the area according to a variable schedule. Related stops: Antonio Pasqualino International Puppet Museum (Palermo). The Napoli family today preserves the only ancient craft of the Catania style that has remained intact and complete, with which the Marionettistica has worked from 1921 to today. Part of this antique craft is now kept in the Pasqualino Museum due to the impossibility of finding an adequate location in the city of Catania.


  • 20 Compagnia Opera dei pupi Turi Grasso (Theatre - "Mestiere"). The company was founded by Turi Grasso in 1963. After having carried out many jobs in the field of craftsmanship, at the age of 16 Turi approached the puppet opera for the first time, attending the shows of the puppeteer Emanuele Macrì, in via Alessi in Acireale. Soon the young man began to work as a driver with Macrì and joined him on numerous tours. After ten years of collaboration, Turi decided to go on his own. He built the props, helped by his wife Venera and in 1963 he started his own business. Over time, the company has involved many skilled operators belonging to the "old" school of the Acireale theatre. Maestro Turi was awarded in 2005 as a Witness of Sicilian Popular Culture, during the Festival of the Provinces of Turin. In 1993 the Turi Grasso Opera dei pupi Acireale Association was established and thus new impetus was given to the activity. (Check out the schedule of shows on the site, call, or write an email). The theatre of the Associazione Opera dei pupi Turi Grasso has a rich program of shows that can also be staged upon reservation. For pupils and students, it also organises meetings and projects on puppet acting and animation techniques, to deepen the tradition. Finally, the theatre exhibits part of the family "trade".
  • 21 Collection of the Pennisi-Macrì Theatre (Collection). M-Sa 09:00-13:00 and 15:30-19:30. In 1928 the puppet opera house located in via Tono in Acireale, founded in 1887 by the Acese puppeteer Don Mariano Pennisi, was moved to via Alessi, where it is still located today. On display there is the “Collezione Teatro Pennisi - Macrì di Acireale”, which includes puppets and equipment from theatres in the Catania area belonging to the Sicilian Region. The collection testifies to the originality of Mariano Pennisi's puppets who introduced different techniques and sizes of puppets from those of the Palermo and Catania schools. In 1934 the baton passed to the adopted son Emanuele Macrì who, born in Messina, was adopted by Pennisi after the 1908 earthquake, in which the young man's parents lost their lives.


  • 22 Gesualdo Pepe Collection (Collection). The museum is open and shows can be arranged for groups by reservation. Museum opening and viewing of shows for groups by appointment. The stable theatre of the primary company of the puppet opera of Caltagirone was born in difficult times, at the end of the First World War, thanks to Giovanni Russo. After him, the Opira is inherited by other men, who overcome the difficulties that an activity like this entails, thanks to their tenacity: Gesualdo and his son Salvatore Pepe and Eugenio Piazza. In 1978, the Municipality of Caltagirone, taking its cue from the great public success that the Company had achieved during a puppet show in Acicastello, entrusted the venue in via Verdumai to the municipality. Restored and adapted for this purpose, the theatre now houses, in addition to the hall for performances, an exhibition of Sicilian puppets, which belonged to the collection of Gesualdo Pepe, and an exhibition of signs and historical books. The collection of puppets includes seventy subjects and fifty spare heads that allow you to have a large number of characters at your disposal. The puppets are dressed in satin and velvet suits and equipped with hand-crafted brass or copper armour. The shows, which reproduce the heroic deeds of the chivalric epic, renewed from time to time by the imagination and inspiration of the artists, take place on the stage equipped with numerous interchangeable hand-painted backdrops. Manoeuvers and talkers give life and voice to the puppets, while the helpers ensure the succession of the various characters.


In 1875 in a basement in via Mario Minniti, then vanedda Spata, Francesco Puzzo built his first puppet. It was he who created the Eldorado Theatre in via Maestranza, with the help of the puppeteer Giuseppe Crimi who painted the curtain for the new theatre. Mr. Puzzo subsequently created the Bellini Theatre which he moved to many locations in the city as well as in the province, operating until 1917, when his sons Ernesto, Giuseppe, Luciano and Salvatore followed in his footsteps. Ernesto Puzzo, in 1924 renominated as the Eden Theatre in Via Gemmellaro, which hosted the great Catania actor and puppeteer Giovanni Grasso, and subsequently, in 1928, the San Giorgio Theatre in Via Dante, today Via dei Santi Coronati, in Syracuse. Ernesto's activity lasted until 1947 while his brother Luciano worked in Noto until 1937 when he passed away. The puppets of Luciano, sold to the Syracusan entrepreneurs Andrea Bisicchia and Carlo Pulvirenti, who in the immediate post-war period managed a theatre then entrusted to Ernesto Puzzo, went to an unidentified puppeteer from Modica, while Ernesto's puppet material was taken over in 1957 by Ignazio Puglisi from Sortinese puppeteer. Francesco Puzzo, who was born in Syracuse in 1857, died in 1936. Ernesto Puzzo, born in 1891, died in 1965.

  • 23 Compagnia dei pupari Vaccaro-Mauceri by Alfredo Mauceri (Puppet theatre). By reservation only. After the Puzzo family, the Vaccaro brothers reopened the curtain on the puppet tradition, assisted by family members. From 1978 to 1995, children and grandchildren took turns alongside the brothers Vaccaro, Rosario and Alfredo. In 1984, on Rosario's death, his brother Alfredo continued the business, which, upon his death in 1995, was taken over by his children and grandchildren through the Alfredo Vaccaro Opera dei pupi Association. Close to 2000, however, a first family split takes place and the Mauceri family, consisting of Francesca Vaccaro, her husband Umberto and her children, taking charge of the entire business, and continuing the tradition. The old association therefore dissolved and in 1999 a new one was born, called the Vaccaro-Mauceri puppeteer company. A new split, in 2020, saw the separation of the children of Umberto and Francesca, the brothers Alfredo, who continues to take care of the company, and Daniel who, together with his parents, established a new one. The company has a varied repertoire of chivalrous and traditional inspired shows, myths and legends from Syracuse, but also shows for children and new innovative ones. It also organises visits and workshops and exhibits the family collection. Theatre of the puppet opera and family "mestiere". The company has a varied repertoire of chivalrous and traditional inspired shows, myths and legends from Syracuse, but also shows for children and new innovative ones. It also organises visits and workshops and exhibits the family collection.
  • ompagnia dei pupari Vaccaro-Mauceri by Alfredo Mauceri
    Association Opera dei pupi Vaccaro Mauceri by Daniel Mauceri
    24 Association Opera dei pupi Vaccaro Mauceri by Daniel Mauceri (Craft workshop). M-F 09:00-13:00 and 16:00-19:00; Sa 10:00-12:30. Umberto Mauceri, his wife Francesca Vaccaro, and their son Daniel from 2020 continue their business in a new associated form, making the most of 25 years of commitment and dedication to the work of puppets and dedicating themselves to the construction of puppets and the enhancement of heritage of which they are custodians through educational activities. The goal is to disseminate the tradition and the particular construction technique of the family in which the use of papier-mâché is handed down. The workshop can be visited daily and offers the opportunity to participate, by reservation, in workshops on the construction of puppets and guided tours. The craft workshop. The workshop offers the opportunity to participate, by reservation, in workshops on the construction of puppets and guided tours.


  • 25 Antique Opera dei pupi Company of the Puglisi Family (Theatre). By reservation only. The Antique Opera dei pupi Company of the Puglisi family owes its link with the opera dei pupi to Don Ignazio Puglisi who learned the art from Giovanni, his father, and from his grandfather Ignazio. Starting at the age of fourteen, after the death of his father he continued his activity by staging his shows in the province of Syracuse. Unlike what happened in the work of the puppets of the Catania school, Don Ignazio lent his voice to all the characters, male and female. A few years after his death, his grandson Ignazio Manlio, stimulated by some of his grandfather's old helpers, takes over the reins of the heritage and returns to the scene with the adventures of the paladins, and more. The traditional repertoire, with performances taken from ancient family manuscripts, is enriched with new productions that are staged both in the family theatre, by reservation, and off-site. (Call or email to find out what's next).
  • 26 Antique Collection of the Opera dei pupi of the Puglisi family - Civic Museum (Collection). The museum houses the puppets and the little theatre from the collection that belonged to Don Ignazio Puglisi. Born in Ragusa in 1904, he learned the trade from his father, following him from an early age. In 1957 he bought all the material of the puppeteer Ernesto Puzzo of Syracuse, enriching his theatre with him; he acquired other materials in Catania and Lentini, from Cirino Speranza, managing to obtain Erminio della Stella d’Oro, considered the most beautiful pupi in the collection. The museum, in addition to the display of puppets, signs, scenes, scripts and books, also houses the original "theatre" by Don Ignazio Puglisi.

Worth knowing[edit]

In Monreale, there is the Ignazio Munna Collection. The birth of the Puppet Opera in Monreale is mainly due to the initiative of Ignazio Munna, born in Erice in 1879. He began his experience in the world of the Puppet Opera at the age of twelve in the theatre of his maternal uncle Francesco Giarratano;  later in the early 1900s he moved with his family to Monreale, setting up a theatre in the historic Carmine district, precisely in the Manin courtyard.  He developed scripts such as The Destroyed of Agrigento, a story of love and revenge, when in 500 BC the Carthaginians dominated the Mediterranean.  He worked as an oprante until 1939, the year of his death.  Ignazio Munna recited with his hoarse and engaging voice and with passion he represented the fights.  The little theatre was inherited by the sons Vincenzo Munna and Vito Munna who with their characteristic "dancing battle", still alive in the memory of the Monreales, performed shows in Italy and all over the world.  The family business cannot be visited.

Girolamo Botta - Opera dei Pupi Italici

Furthermore, the work of Sicilian puppets nourishes the imagination, both in the theatrical, cinematographic and artisan fields.  For example, in 2015 Girolamo Botta, of Palermitan origin, founded the art company G.Botta in Sulmona.  With his mobile theatre, he staged puppets and popular paintings in central Italy, which he made with a smaller size than the traditional ones of the Palermo school. In fact, the puppets measure 70 cm, and the theatre is also on a smaller scale.  Later he gave life to the "Italic puppets" that tell the deeds of the warriors of the Osco-Umbrian peoples during the Social War against the Roman Republic.

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