Born at the beginning of the ‘80s as a niche phenomenon, with the new millennium the Street Art has literally exploded into each of its declinations throughout the streets of the Italian cities.
Beyond the polemic against the evolution of this underground phenomenon, which distanced itself from its origins, and its hybridization thanks to new legal and authorized ways, ever more suburban buildings and walls have been covered with colours, bearing messages that are usually linked to social and political – but not only – protest.
Strolling around the cities of Emilia Romagna, today it is quite simple to bump into wall paintings that catch the eye and even a shutter click.
Redevelopment, Valorisation, and Repossession are some of the key concepts that have supported these kinds of intervention, turning murals and graffiti into real works of art that fight against the greyness of everyday life and that are able to turn urban spaces into “open-air museums”.
Street art has become so a key to re-read urban realities and their surrounding territory, becoming an excellent glimpse for a journey and a way to discover with new eyes some cities of our region through unexplored tracks.
From the big 1984-exhibition dedicated to Street Art “Arte di Frontiera. New York Graffiti“, Bologna has always driven some particular attention to this art form with undefined borders.
Whether for people’s movements animating the city or for the strong university call, from the community centres, Graffiti and Street Art developed like wildfire over the urban fabric in more or less spontaneous ways. Beyond the works by Blu (that have almost disappeared as a consequence of a protest where his murales were removed) and by Ericailcane, over the years also injections by Collettivo FX | Nemo’s | Pupo Bibbitò | Alicé | Tellas and many others came into light.
Since 2012, this artistic call gained a new energy thanks to the project “Frontier – La linea dello stile”, which involved Italian and foreign artists (among them: M-City | Does | HoNeT | Hitnes | Etnik | Eron | Joys | Dado | Cuoghi Corsello | Rusty | Daim | Andreco | Phase II | Peeta | Seikon | Nuria | Lokiss | Rae Martini) in the valorisation of some working-class buildings. The Cheap Festival contributed to the city’s new life too through an awareness-raising project where poster art enhanced public spaces, underlying their importance.
Bologna is rich in wall paintings, many of which – at least the biggest ones – are outside the city centre.
We suggest you take your bike and to ride through the city. To find street art you might use the digital map with an itinerary dotted with images, biographies and in-depth analysis of the artist that the association SenzAncora, with the support of the collective group Ozono Factory, has created; otherwise, if you want to keep always the pace, you might rely on the site BolognaStreetArt.
Ferrara is trying to develop and become an even better place, promoting new forms of art and educating the new generations to live their territory with participation and respect. With the portal Ferrarastreetart.it citizens and tourists of Ferrara can orient themselves in the new world of urban art, looking with new eyes what is around them. E-galleries and information on single projects and artists of the territory are on this portal, such as Ericailcane | Mendez | Psiko | Sfiggy | Dissenso Cognitivo | Macs | Stefano Capozzi and many other.
If we move from the Estense capital towards the centre of the Po Valley, we meet the project Rurales by Alessandro Gallerani. Near Cento, there where once communities of farmers with their families lived, are today industrial crops and silence, so much silence. So, why don’t we take these abandoned country places and give them new life through street art?
And finally, do not forget the Manufactory Festival, a recent project created to enhance and enrich the urban art of Comacchio, in the heart of the Po Delta Park.
At the beginning of the 2000s, when street art did not have this name yet, the festival Icone di Modena had the aim to cover the grey colour on the walls of the city. Numerous internationally well-known artists were involved and participated in this project for 6 editions, revolutionizing Modena’s outlook.
Bastardilla | Stak | Blu | Ericailcane | Dem | Etnik | Francesco Barbieri | Aris | 108 | Ozmo, turned the subways, flyovers, the suburban and railway area in an open-sky gallery. In the last edition, the so-called 5.9 Festival brought this form of art even in the territories of the “Bassa” that were stricken in 2012 by a very strong earthquake. Today their works can still be admired on the walls of Carpi, San Felice, Finale Emilia, Camposanto, Bomporto, Bastiglia, Medolla, Cavezzo, and Rovereto di Carpi.
Recently, in occasion of the 2200th anniversary since the Roman foundation of Modena, Eron worked on Palazzo Santa Chiara.
Another interesting and recent project is “La Cattedrale Immaginata“, promoted by the Associazione Rosso Tiepido in collaboration with the Magma Gallery of Bologna. It is an industrial warehouse that is transforming into a huge art installation. Artists such as: Bartocci, Tellas, Ciredz, Moneyless, Stenlex and Aris, Awer, MP5 and many others passed.
Active participation is very strong also in Novi (Modena). A young Street Art festival named TOTART is involving several creative realities of the territory and inviting many artists to express themselves on the walls of the cities: Ericailcane | Bastardilla | Giorgio Bartocci | Luca Zamoc | Basik | Mat! | Mr. Thoms.
In the North-eastern periphery of Reggio nell’Emilia, the Reggiane, which have been forgotten and abandoned for years, have now been saved by colour – literally.
They turned into a very interesting street art workshop. Everything started and developed in a very spontaneous way and it gradually became a more complex project that called artists from every corner of the world, seeing them working on a gigantic collective artwork.
We invite you to make a tour on foot through the ruins of these big warehouses or- you can choose to pick up your mobile phone and know the artists and their works by travelling through the warehouses with the dynamic system Reggiane Urban Gallery.
Video by Livio Ninni ©: Urban Lives
If you move towards the Apennines of Reggio Emilia, in the area of Canossa, you will meet dozens of wall interventions that were created during the Sagra Della Street Art. This project came from an idea of Collettivo FX and Associazione Whats, which brought dozens of artists to work on stables, barns, taverns, cisterns, houses and cheese factories, but – most of all – with the people of that territory.
These little mountain towns (not only Trinità, but also Selva, Selvapiana, Monchio delle Olle, Pardella, Vedriano and Albareto) figured on the International Street Art Map thanks to artists like Astro Naut | Ben Slow | Bibbitò | Collettivo Fx | Gas | Gola Hundun | James Kalinda | Julieta Xlf | Neko | Otto Grozni | Psiko Patik | Random | Reve+ | Signora K | Zibe.
Parma is another city willing to recover some of its walls and started, for this reason, a project of wall paintings entitled Parma Street View in 2014. If you take a walk near the Marconi Foreign Languages High School, you will see a 250mq-big collective artwork (A. Canu | Chomp | Dildo Society | Grozni | Mha Corre tra gli Alberi | P-45 | PsikoPatik) dedicated to the theme of the barricades of 1922.
Northwards, right in the centre of the city, you can see PAO‘s work on the wall of the Pensilina in Viale Toschi; not far away, in the subway of the railway station, there is a work dedicated to Giuseppe Verdi by Nabla & Zibe.
We must also remember McLuc Culture Cultural Association. It has launched many projects of awareness and collaboration between artists of the underground world. One of them is the Segni Urbani – National Biennial of Street Art.
In the former Byzantine capital, there are murals spread all over the city centre, along with an art itinerary that embraces contemporaneity in several quarters of the city: first of all in the City Dock. You can reach the several works on foot, but it is easier to get there by bike.
The map on the tourism website may help you. Several artists, many of them coming from the festival Subsidenze, gave their contribution: Invader | Ericailcane | Kobra | Millo | Sea Creative | PixelPancho | No Curves | Camilla Falsini | Tellas | Dissenso Cognitivo | Rustam Qbic | Jim Avignon | Zed1 | About Ponny | Reve+ and many other, for a festival in continuous development.
If you walk away from Ravenna, you can find further examples of street art in the surrounding territory. In the little Municipality of Cotignola, you can find some projects linked to local memory that see many famous artists dealing with its façades and walls: Signora K e James Kalinda | Mina Hamada and Zosen Bandido | Collettivo Fx | Gonzalo Borondo | Stinkfish, etc.
In Milano Marittima the well-known disco Woodpecker, today abandoned, displays the ancient cupola of its dancing room entirely painted in blue and, not far from there, in Cervia, the project #CantiereBellezza aims at requalifying old buildings thanks to the artists Gue and the duo Giulio Vesprini & Aris.
From the Byzantine capital, we move on via Emilia where in Forlì MURALI – a new project dedicated to street art – started its first edition in the city. For the occasion, well-known artists from all Italy, who have already performed abroad, have been invited in the heart of Romagna by Marco Miccoli (the creator of some art spaces like Bonobolabo, as well as of the festival of street art in Ravenna Subsidenze). They will deal with the Constitution of Italy. Several guests artists: Millo | Eron | Camilla Falsini | Gola | Zed1 | Moneyless.
In 2019 the festival has started again with new murals. The topic of the new edition is the Italian Risorgimento, reinterpreted by Hyuro, Sema Lao and the Italians Basik and Andrea Ravo Mattoni.
The town of Imola started to approach Street Art in the last years, starting a process of urban recovery of some of its quarters. Thanks to the festival RestART, some decaying areas were recovered through meetings, events, contests, workshops of every kind, like design and urban workshops.
Several artists were called to leave their mark: Collettivo FX | Awer | Mr. Fijodor | Ale Senso | Etnik | Reve+ | Sea Creative and many others.
Thanks to a digital map, you can discover all of them and you can move along the roads of the city seeing photos, reading their names and discovering the meaning of their artworks.
When the word ‘Street Art’ did not exist, in the little medieval village of Dozza, there was already a little festival dedicated to the art on the streets. It was 1960, and the aim was to turn the city into an open-sky gallery.
Today, walking down its narrow streets, you can admire about 90 artworks realised within the “Biennial Festival Muro Dipinto”. Over time, hundreds of artists gave their contribution (Sebastian Matta | Alberto Sughi | Ennio Calabria | Bruno Ceccobelli | Omar Galliani, etc.). They abandoned themselves to their inspiration and freed their imagination, turning the walls of one of the most beautiful hamlets of Italy into an artwork.
Only 3km away from Dozza, a bit southern on the via Aemilia, you can admire in Toscanella very important murals (like those by Macs and Tellas) that were painted right during the last editions of the Biennial Festival.
You cannot miss a tour of the Street Art in Rimini, and you should start it in the little fishers’ village of San Giuliano. If you start walking down its narrow streets, it is easy to be bewitched by all the murals decorating the façades of the houses. Many of them were realised in occasion of the Festa de Borg in 1994 dedicated to Federico Fellini.
Only a few steps from there, in Via Ducale and on the Wall overlooking the waters flowing under the Tiberio Bridge, you will find two murals, respectively designed by Bastardilla and Ericailcane.
Rimini is the city of Eron too, though – one of the most important graffiti writers of the national scene. Many of his works are still on the walls of the old Roman colony, and many other faded, while some are at the City Museum, displayed like paintings of the Mindscape cycle.
Yet still, the work of art, the masterpiece of Eron is without any doubts “Forever and ever…nei secoli dei secoli”, a trompe-l’œil painted on the ceiling of the Church of San Martino in Riparotta, in Viserba, and this is the very first time when Street Art entered a place of worship.
If you move from Rimini, the works by Eron are also in Riccione, in the subway in Via Flaminia is “Concrete vs Concrete”, in Coriano, on the wall of the indoor sports arena is a big 350mq-big portrait dedicated to Marco Simoncelli and, finally, in Santarcangelo, on the wall of the ancient laundry.
Right in Santarcangelo, the land of cultural experimentation and home to the festival Santarcangelo dei Teatri, works by artist from all over the wall decorate the walls: Ericailcane | Dem | 108 | Allegra Corbo | Hitnes | Kabu | Run & Zbiok are only some of the artists that re-invented public spaces with their art, creating in this way an alternative map.
Mutonia, the community of artists and performers that since the beginning of the 1990s has chosen to live in the heart of Romagna, dedicating themselves to recycling and dross, is right here.
The area they occupied has recently been invaded by a jam of street artists called to redesign this magic place thanks to the project Vertigo Truth (Gola | Ericailcane | Bastardilla | Andreco | Tracy Pica Pica | Gio Pistone | Dem | Basik | Nicola Alessandrini | Paperesistance | and many others).
Spending a day in the beautiful village of Saludecio means taking a journey among the inventions that marked – more than many others – our lives since the 19th century. The locomotive, the cinema, the photography, the radio, the telephone, and the light bulb: street after street, the walls of the village are today an open-sky exhibition of almost 50 artworks.
If you want to be always updated about the initiatives related to this form of art, we suggest you look http://urbanlives.it/. It will help you to discover stories painted on the walls of your city that maybe you had never imagined.
Davide Marino was born archaeologist but ended up doing other things. Rational – but not methodic, slow – but passionate. A young enthusiast with grey hair