Getting Arty on the Streets of Italy

There really are some clever people in the World.

Unfortunately I am not one of them, especially when it comes to anything remotely artistic or creative. I am strictly a stick figure artist and even then you have to use a fair bit of imagination to see what I am getting at, but I do love to see the magical creations of others.

On a recent stroll through many Italian towns and cities, I was spoilt for creative choice

Colourful butterflies suspended over the main street in Pietrasanta
Looking up in Pietrasanta

Street art and sculpture really say something about a community. To me it is saying:

  • We are not afraid of trying something different,
  • We are proud of our local talent and artists, and
  • We want to share all of the above with everyone and anyone.

From my 40 days of walking, I found the smaller towns and cities ‘did’ street art better than the larger centres. Maybe in the smaller places there is less visual competition to detract from the artworks or maybe there is a stronger sense of community to drive these sorts of initiatives.

Personally, I think street art gives a town a lift. It makes me pause as I pass by and think “what the…?”, and shakes me out of old thought patterns. I don’t necessarily like very piece, and certainly I don’t understand most of them, but I still like to see communities trying something new.

The communities of Pietrasanta and Lucca really pull out all stops to enliven their streets with feature works. There is an interesting juxtaposition between the very modern, and sometimes ‘out there’ art works, and the incredibly old backdrop of stone buildings and cobbled piazzas. Maybe it is the significant contrast between old and new that makes both elements shine.

three wooden pilgrim sculptures
Go thataway…

Some communities also celebrated their connection with the Via Francigena with small sculptures strategically placed by the side of the trail, welcoming a walker to their town. Personally that is a nice thing to see as it indicates that they are supportive of the trail and people like me who walk it.

In the past in Australia, street art has often been found exclusively in the larger more profitable cities. Now small rural communities are getting on board and developing sculpture trails or simply using art to enhance their streetscape.

I can see a number of benefits to doing this really well:

  • Economic: Street art and sculpture can be used to attract people to a place. The magnificent Sculpture by the Sea exhibition held at Bondi Beach attracts around 500 000 people every year. If the exhibitions change regularly then there is the potential to attract new, fresh audiences each time or encourage repeat visitation.

  It can also be used as a tool to systematically move people around a community     showing more of what is on offer and potentially exposing more businesses to new     customers.

  • A rearing bronze horse sculpture
    Horsing around in Piacenza

    Social: It enhances community pride. It shows that a community is prepared to invest in itself and is proactive in thinking about ways to improve their home and make it a great place to live.

  • Artistic: Not least, street art celebrates the imagination and creativity in the arts industry. It reveals the new thinking and willingness to experiment and hopefully, increases the opportunity for the many struggling artists to receive commissions and sell artworks, supporting their longevity in the industry.
  • Education: Does having art on the streets make it more accessible and ‘normal’ for everyone? Do you think it inspires children or the next generation of artists to take a risk and follow their creative instincts? I hope that by having artworks upfront and in public, anyone can be exposed to art and are free to decide whether it is for them or not.
Three silver figures crouch on a wall in Pietrasanta
Three Golems looking for a ring in Pietrasanta?

Congratulations to all those communities who include sculpture and artworks on their streets. It makes life richer for everyone.

What is your favourite piece of street art?

August & September 2018


The Basics

What: Murals, sculptures, inlaid paving, hanging features – it’s all free and waiting for you. Just walk the streets.

Where: Don’t forget to look up. Open your eyes and see what is waiting for you on your own streets.

When: Anytime – it’s a 24-hour art gallery.

Why: To make you stop, think and reassess your streetscape. Also to celebrate the ingenuity and vitality of our communities.

How: On foot is best – take it slow and absorb.

Who: Everyone. Open your eyes and your mind. It doesn’t mean you have to like every piece, just consider the thinking and energy that goes into creating it.

Related Posts: one of my favourite local arts events is the Sculptures in the Garden, held every October. Lucky for us, some of the art works end up in our town’s sculpture trail.

Related Blogs: For see more fantastic street art in Pietrasanta, check out this blog.

Read About it: Would you like to read more about sculpture? Then have a look at ‘100 of the Greatest Sculptures in the Western World’ by Robert Holt. No doubt ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but check it out on Book Depository.

#streetart, #sculpture, #creativity

6 thoughts on “Getting Arty on the Streets of Italy

  1. Love some of those sculptures. I noticed the part you wrote about street art in Australia becoming popular in rural towns too – have you seen the murals on the grain silos? Beautiful 🙂 I’d love to see them in person but have only seen photos.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, the grain silos are just mind blowing! We have quite a few communities throughout western NSW who have these magnificent works of art. I don’t know how artists manage to maintain the perspective painting on large ‘canvases’. They are true works of art! Thanks, Mel

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m always happy to see art in the streets. As you say, you don’t always have to like it but it’s the product of somebody’s mind and energy. I would have loved to see the recent sculpture exhibition of hands in Venice. It looked amazing from the photos. But then, just Venice would do fine… 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m with you! I could go to Venice any ol’ day! Isn’t it funny how polarising Venice is? People either love it or hate it. I am thinking a return visit in Winter may be nice without all the crowds. Oh, dream on! I have scheduled a post for next year featuring the Sculpture by the Sea event at Bondi Beach. It is a stunner! Have a good day, Mel


      1. Thanks Mel. Carnival maybe? Shame about the crowds but who’d get dressed up otherwise? 😄💕

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Maybe we need MULTIPLE return trips to Venice, just for scientific purposes of course…compare and contrast etc.!! 🙂


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