Street Art in Italy: unconventional art works from the USA to the italian peninsula

Street art in Italy is one of the most interesting forms of modern visual art. Brought to Europe in the 90s from the USA, it is becoming more and more popular, thanks to city projects and many talented artists.
We have found the best examples of street art in Italy just for you!

street-art-in-italy
Street art can be admired all over the world on different surfaces and in different forms. This form of art expression originated in the USA in the 60s and continued to evolve in the following  decades in several forms. In the 1990’s it was finally exportd in other continents, especially South America and Europe, by local street artists: nowadays Berlin, Paris, London and Rome all have their own street art masterpieces and it’s a real joy for the eye to capture one while walking!

Street Art in the world: from the USA to the main European Cities

Street art is visual art executed in public locations, usually outside of the context of traditional art venues: for example it can be seen on buildings façades, bridges, walls and subways. The term “street art” became famous in the early 1980s during the “graffiti art” boom in the USA and it continued to be applied in different ways and forms until now. Stencil graffiti, wheatpasted poster art or sticker art, as well as street installation or sculpture are some of the most common forms of modern street art. The most inspired and original artists even use to project videos on walls, adorn benches and trees (this is known as “yarn bombing”) and often lock sculptures and other installations on to fences, street lamps, and other public furniture, securing them through padlocks (official name: Lock-on).

street-art-yarn-bombing

The earliest expressions of street art were certainly the graffiti which showed up on the sides of train carts and walls, executed by New York gangs in the 1920s and 1930s. But the real impact of this subversive culture was felt especially in the 1970s and 1980s. In those years, young people created a movement to respond to socio-political issues: they started a spontaneous movement to express how they felt and art seemed to them the easiest way to express their opinions to the world.
Soon, this subcultural phenomenon was noted and praised also by the “grown-ups” world: from the fingers and cans of teenagers it took the form of a proper artistic expression. Photographers understood its power and started capturing and “displacing” street art into different contexts, spreading its existence all over the world.
Most of the graffiti we’ve seen until a few years ago, were just a form of “vandalism”. In fact what people called graffiti was, until a few years ago, considered only the work of bored kids who wasted their time vandalizing subway trains and buildings with spray cans writing their names or pointless messages to unknown girls. But in the last decade city councils and cultural organizations took specific areas and assigned them to the best street artists: they managed to give new life to obsolete stations, subway walls and working-class building, drawing more and more attention to this form of art.

Street art in Italy: the best street art works you can not miss when visiting Italy

Italy is now one of the most popular european capitals for Street Art on Buildings. These works have nothing to do with the simple tags or graffiti sprayed on the walls, so hated by the citizens in the past. They are proper works of art, which make us think about what they mean and the relationship to the area in which they are placed. They are common, for example, in working-class areas of the main cities, often commissioned by city councils to drive more attention to the area and bring more people and tourists to visit forgotten quarters.
We have created a virtual itinerary with some of the most impressive street art works in Italy, all made by italian artists. Let’s start our journey!

    • Turin
      Millo is a street artist born in Apulia, south of Italy. He decorated the area “Barriere di Milano” in Turin with 13 amazing murales, all about the relationship between humans and metropolis.street-art-turin

    • Milan
      Project Energy Box managed in redecorating countless anonymous grey cabinets spread all over the city. This is one of the best examples by artist Zibe with his personal project: “Fluid thoughts”street-art-milan

    • Venice
      Old Marinoni theatre was given a second life after being abandoned for many years. Thanks to a big restoration work and the art of local artist Manuel De Rita, aka Peeta, it is now a fascinating turquois and violet space, where light filters through colored windows on the ceiling and illuminate the curvy lines sprayed on the walls.street-art-venice

    • Rome
      18 artists from all over the world partecipated to the project BIG CITY LIGHTS, launched in 2015 to adorn the area of Tormarancia in Rome with breathtaking murales on 18 buildings.street-art-rome

    • Naples
      Francisco Bosoletti  created his version of Partenope in the quarter Materdai in Naples. The work of art was executed on a 15 meters high building wall.street-art-naples

    • Catania (Sicily)
      Street artist Microbo expressed her art on a building in Catania, one of Sicily’s main cities. Her work was executed in 2010 and from that moment on she created more than 80 exhibitions and 10 appearances in international museums.

      street-art-naples

    • Bologna
      Luca Barcellona is a local artist who recently finished painting a wall on the Bycicle Parking Station of Bologna, “Dynamo”. His work displays a quote by the tightrope walker Philippe Petit and it’s part of a project calles “B-wall”: every year the wall wil be repainted with a different art work.sreet-art-bplogna

We hope you liked our itinerary. If you wish to have more information on street art in Italy or you want to book a tour with Journeys to Italy, feel free to contact us.

Easter traditions in Italy

Easter holidays in Italy: a week-long celebration through religious and secular traditions

Easter traditions in Italy are many and differ from region to region: this is the most important holiday after Christmas.
If you want to visit Italy during “Pasqua”, italian for Easter, you surely want to know more about their traditions. Keep reading to discover traditional recipes, secular habits and religious celebrations.

Italian children nowadays mainly spend the Easter holidays keeping busy decorating eggs, drawing cards and writing poems for their families and collecting chocolate eggs to open and look for for surprises on Easter day. Luckily, though, most of Italian religious, artistic and culinary traditions are still very much alive and visiting Italy during Easter is a fantastic way to immerse in their culture.

  • Before Easter: Palm Sunday, Altar of Repose and Good Friday

Religious celebrations for Catholics start from Palm Sunday, a Christian feast that falls on the Sunday before Easter.
To commemorates Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, people join worship services, which include a procession holding palms in their hands, to represent the palm branches the crowd scattered in front of Jesus as he entered Jerusalem.
Since palms are not commonly found in Italy, people are given olive trees’ branch: during Palm Sunday they go to Church, join the Mass and then bring home an olive tree branch which they usually keep at home as a sign of Peace and Devotion all year round.

On the night of the Thursday preceding Easter, Catholics prepare themselves joining a special ritual called “Altar of repose”: the Communion hosts are consecrated during the Mass of the Lord’s Supper and are placed or “reserved”, to be used on the following day, Good Friday. Between the time of Jesus’ death and his resurrection, mass cannot be celebrated. Therefore communion hosts cannot be consecrated and any hosts used on Good Friday must have been consecrated previously. People on Maundy Thursday go to their local Church and sit in front of the Hosts, in Chapels adorned with flowers, singing and praying until late at night.

The next day is Good Friday. On this day Christians commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and his Death on the Calvary through solemn processions where scenes from the Passion and Death of Christ are brought alive with actors, costumes and symbols traditionally linked with Jesus death like nails, the hammer, the Crown of Thorns, the Cross and so on. All over Italy, hundreds of processions with different rituals take place on Good Friday. In Rome, the Pope also participates in a huge procession that starts at the Colosseum.

  • Celebrating Easter in Italy: Pasqua and Pasquetta

Forget the solemn rituals of Good Friday. The day of Easter and the Monday after are public holiday throughout Italy and bring with them joy and celebration.
Since Spring has already come, it is wonderful time to be in Italy. Unlike Christmas, when families prefer to stay indoors, at Easter everyone seems to be in the streets, going to church and celebrating in their own way. There is the reason behind a famous saying in Italian that goes like this: Natale con i tuoi, Pasqua con chi vuoi, literally: Christmas with your family and Easter with whomever you like.
Many leave for their hometown, many take a trip to a different region or abroad, others simply spend the Easter day at home with their relatives eating traditional dishes. The Monday after is commonly referred to as “Pasquetta” (little Easter): Italians look forward to it because they usually plan to spend it outdoors, usually making a pic-nic or going to the sea. This has little to do with religion: it is mainly an excuse to enjoy the warm weather in nature with friends and nice food, playing ball and card games and chill out.

  • Traditional Easter food and recipes in Italy: Colomba and Easter Eggs

Each region of Italy has different dishes but chocolate eggs with surprises and “Colomba” cakes can be found throughout the country. “Colomba” (“Easter Dove” in English, since doves are the symbol of peace, just like the olive branch mentioned before ) is an Italian Easter cake created in Milan at the start of 1900. It can be regarded as the counterpart of the Italian Christmas desserts, panettone and pandoro. More popular among children (and adults as well!) are big chocolate eggs wrapped in glittery paper , displayed in the windows of every coffee bar and supermarket, sometimes many months before Easter. These eggs are hollow, but each one has a toy or present inside and this keep kids thrilled to find out their surprises. Nowadays many brand produce eggs for adults as well, putting inside present more suitable for grown-ups. Bunnies, on the other side, are not very common in Italy: for Italian the symbol of birth is mainly the Egg.

Unlike eggs and “Colomba” other dishes and recipes are peculiar to every region. The most famous are sweet and savoury versions of “Pizza di Pasqua” in central Italy, Sweet “Pastiera” cakes and savoury “Casatiello” pies in Naples and the very sweet “Cassata” in Sicily, which you can find all year round, anyway. Popular food all over Italy during Easter is also Salami and eggs (also eaten for breakfast), artichokes and lamb dishes.

  • Easter celebrations in Rome and Florence

If you are in Rome and you’re interested in joining religious parades and masses during Easter, don’t miss the traditional Via Crucis taking place at the Colosseum on Good Friday at 9:15 pm.
On Easter day go to St. Peter’s Basilica at 10 am and join the Mass. At the end of the celebration Pope Francis will give his blessing from the balcony and you can participate to the “Urbi et Orbi” message he will give to the crowd in Piazza San Pietro.

If you have planned to spend Easter in Florence you will take part of a very special tradition called Explosion of the Cart: it starts around 10am, when a priest become rubbing three flints together until they spark and light an Easter candle; this candle is then used to light coals placed in a special box kept on the Cart. The procession delivers this Holy Fire to the Archbishop of Florence near Santa Maria del Fiore, better known as the Duomo. The procession is accompanied by drummers, flag throwers and actors dressed in historical costumes, together with city officials and clerical representatives.

Let us make our Easter trip to Italy unforgettable. Plan a fantastic tour to make the most of your journey.
Private and small group tours are available, with friendly and licensed English-speaking guides who will illustrate the art, traditions and historical facts of the main Italian cities.
Contact us for more information and to book your tour.

Santa Maria Antiqua opens to the public

Santa Maria Antiqua opens to the public after 30 years

The basilica, located on the Palatine Hill near the Colosseum, is now open to visitors again. The building was abandoned after the 847 AD earthquake. The original icon of the Virgin Mary had been hidden underground for twelve centuries.

santa maria antiqua opens to the public

Santa Maria Antiqua opens to the public

Santa Maria Antiqua opens to the public again after 30 years. The spectacular basilica was discovered by Gacomo Boni in 1900 on the slopes of the Palatine Hill. Now, after a complex restoration work, it is now open to visitors: the work involved the building itself, restoration of paintings and frescoes which represent a “unique example of the Christian world of the first millennium“.
The Basilica dates back to a period between the 6th and 9th centuries, when it was abandoned after several portions of the building collapsed, due to the earthquake of 847 AD.
A special exhibition was set to initiate the new life of the church, which in the meantime had been open to visits just for limited periods of time, through guided tours to the archaeological site. “Santa Maria Antiqua between Rome and Byzantium” has been chosen as the main theme of the opening, which will see the public visiting the Basilica and new pieces of art which will tell the history of this monument, which is considered “an exceptional evidence of the developing of Roman painting and of all the Greek-Byzantine world of the Early Middle Ages, before the iconoclasm removed all traces of the holy images of those times“.
At the entrance of Santa Maria Antiqua  portraits of the kings ruling during the foundation of the Church had been displayed, including the so called “group of Empress Ariadne and Amalasuntha, daughter of Theodoric“.
Other gems displayed in the exhibition include a Mosaic of the 8th century, commissioned by Pope John 7th, which portraits the Adoration of the Magi. The work of art has been restored to its original splendour, thanks to the intervention of the Istitute for  Preservation and Restoration.

For other images of the spectacular Basilica of Santa Maria Antiqua you can visit the Gallery of the European Pressphoto Agency

If you want to visit the Colosseum, Palatine Hill and Roman Forum, including the Basilica of Santa Maria Antiqua you can book a guided tour with Journeys to Italy: a professional English-speaking guide will be at your disposal for a 3 hours tour of the area, which includes skip-the-line tickets! Write an email to info@journeystoitaly.com for more information or to book your tour.

michelangelo and the sistine chapel

Michelangelo and the Sistine Chapel – 10 Facts you may not know

The Sistine Chapel’s ceiling, which Michelangelo painted between 1508 and 1512, is one of the most relevant work of High Renaissance art. Five million tourists each year enter the Vatican to admire its beauty, but most know little about it. Below, you can find 10 compelling facts about the Sistine Chapel, its creation and interesting anecdotes about Michelangelo, Popes of the time and much more.

  1. Sistine Chapel: look up – but not just at the ceiling

    Sistine Chapel is famous for its ceiling’s frescoes, but these are part of a bigger scheme of decorations. The Chapel includes not only the large fresco called The Last Judgment, which Michelangelo painted to adorne the sanctuary wall, but also wall paintings by other main painters of the 15th century, such as Domenico Ghirlandaio, Sandro Botticelli and Pietro Perugino, as well as a number of large tapestries by Raphael Sanzio, which illustrate the doctrine of the Catholic Church.

  2. The restoration of Sistine Chapel: nudities revealed

    Between 1980 and 1999, art restorers worked on a big portion of the Sistine Chapel, including Michelangelo’s ceiling and his fresco known as “The Last Judgment”. Hundreds of art experts meticulously took away layers of deposits and soot, managing in brightening the colors of the paintings and making them look fresh and spring-like. The most interesting fact is that this restoration unveiled the work of Pope Pius IV. Following the “Fig-Leaf Campaign“, led by Cardinal Carafa and Monsignor Sernini, the Pope ordered to place loincloths and fig leaves to cover human nudes during the 1560s.

  3. The “Creation of Adam” might actually depict a human brain

    In 1990 Doctor Frank Lynn Meshberger described what people had never seen for centuries — in the fresco “The Creation of Adam“, just behind the figure of God, you can spot an anatomically accurate image of the human brain! Remember the world-famous image where God and Adam reach for each joining fingers? Well, Meshberger succeded in linking each detail of the painting to an anatomical part of the brain. But how could Michelangelo know so much about the structure of the human brain? That’s probably because Michelangelo had been dissecting bodies since he was 18, mainly in the Monastery of Santo Spirito in Florence where the corpses often were taken from nearby hospitals.

  4. Conclaves – meetings where Popes are elected – have been held in the Sistine Chapel since 1492

    In order to avoid prolonged deadlocks during papal elections, local authorities decided to the seclude the cardinal electors in a location, until they finally agreed to elect the new Pope – a decision which is still announced to the public by a cloud of white smoke which goes out of the Sistine Chapel’s chimney. The location of this secluded meeting, called “conclave” (from the Latin “cum clavis” – meaning “with key”) was not fixed until the 14th century. After the Western Schism elections have always been held in Rome, except in 1800, when French troops invaded Rome and Cardinals had to meet in Venice, under Austrian protection. It must be noted, though, that the election of a new pope has been held in different locations in Rome since 1492 and Sistine Chapel became the sole venue only in 1870.

  5. A bit of etimology: Nephew, Nipote and Nepotism

    The Sistine Chapel takes its name from Pope Sixtus IV, but the Pope who commissioned Michelangelo’s frescoes in 1508 was Julius II, the nephew of Sixtus IV. It’s interesting to know that the English term “nepotism” derives from the Italian “nipote“, meaning “nephew”. This is because Popes had a habit of favouring relations and not only nephews: many times popes’ “nephews” were actually their sons!

  6. Michelangelo DID NOT paint the Sistine Chapel lying down

    Contrary to what most people believe Michelangelo wasn’t lying down when working o the frescoes. The artist and his assistants created a platform extended over half the area of the chapel to allow them to stand upright and reach above their heads. This wooden platform was attached to the walls through brackets. The idea that Michelangelo painted on his back might derive from the 1965 film “The Agony and the Ecstasy” in which Charlton Heston interpreted the genius working on the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling.

  7. Sistine Chapel in numbers

    The chapel’s paintings cover 12,000 square feet (1,110 square metres), which is about one-sixth the size of a football pitch.
    An average of 2,000 people crowd into the chapel at any one time.
    Michelangelo worked on the Chapel for about 4 years, between 1508 and 1512
    The vaulted ceiling of Sistine Chapel rises to 20.7 metres (68 ft)
    God is depicted 6 times in the ceiling frescoes
    Sisto conducted the first Mass in the chapel on August 15, 1483

  8. In the beginning was a starry sky – earlier version of the Sistine Chapel

    Michelangelo was commissioned by Pope Julius II della Rovere in 1508 to cover the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, frescoed about 30 years before by Piero Matteo d’Amelia with a star-spangled sky. Who knows what the chapel looked like, before Michelangelo worked on it?

  9. Forbidden fruit… Or forbidden fruits?

    In the ceiling panel depicting the Temptation, Michelangelo’s tree is a fig. But medieval traditions report that when Eve is in the Garden of Eden, she is tempted by the snake with an apple. This idea may have originated in a play on words. In the Latin text of the Bible the word ”malum,” for evil, is used in the phrase ”the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil” (”boni et mali”). But the Latin for apple is also ”malum,” hence the analogy.
    Certain Hebrew legends refer to the fruit of evil using different kind of fruits: figs, grapes and the ”etrog’, citrons are all used in the same context. That is probably why Michelangelo chose to paint a fig in his Temptation panel.

  10. The pain of being pure at art – Michelangelo’s suffering at work

    Besides being a gifted sculptor and painter, Michelangelo Buonarroti was also a very good poet. He wrote energetically about his suffering, leaving us many details of the unpleasant sides of working on the Cappella Sistina’s ceiling. Due to the unnatural position he had to hold when painting the ceiling, Michelangelo’s face was always covered in paint and he also developed many conditions, such as goiter an a knotted spine: he describes all his problems in a sonnet, which you can read in a wonderful English translation by Gail Mazur.