Painted Villages: Italy’s Street Art Capitals

Italian contemporary creativity is underrated and waits to be explored.

Street Art in Orgosolo, Sardinia, Italy
A narrow alleyway in Orgosolo, Sardinia. Photo: Jürgen Scheeff on Unsplash.

Italy has no shortage of art museums protectively housing centuries of priceless artwork, but if you’re tired of the oil paintings and white marble, and want something more contemporary, a walk through any of these street art capitals can be organized easily and on the cheap.

Orgosolo, Sardinia

The unassuming mountain village of Ogosolo might not seem like the place to go for something so modern as street art, but the culture of public murals—or more accurately, ‘graffiti’—in the town goes back to at least the 1960s during a period of social and political unrest when inhabitants would use this as a way to voice their frustrations. Nowadays, the street art memorializes scenes from the history of the town and its cultural heritage.

Palermo, Sicily

A hot tourist destination, but remember to keep your eyes up when you’re walking through Palermo’s streets. Artwork scales the sides of buildings, reflecting the history and the present day of the tiny island—there’s the series of saints by Igor Scalisi Palminteri (whose paintings of Santa Rosalia, Saint Benedict the Moor, and Saint Erasmus were painted like larger-than-life icons), the hyper realistic portrait titled Bakitha of a young woman in a headscarf in front of a golden halo, but the most meaningful is the mural by Rosk & Loste dedicated to Falcone and Borsellino, the two Sicilian magistrates who challenged the Cosa Nostra and lost their lives in a car bomb attack.

Ostiense, Rome

One of the up-and-coming neighborhoods of Rome, Ostiense is undergoing something of an urban renewal with the addition of large-scale murals across the city—the best known of which is the Hunting Pollution painting on Via del Porto Fluviale, a 1,000 sqm, seven-story tall artwork (the largest in Europe) of a tri-colored heron created using anti-pollution paint that is capable of cleaning air pollution with the same effectiveness of a 30-tree forest. It was conceptualized by Yourban2030 (a female non-profit group) and painted by Federico Massa (aka Iena Cruz).

Borgo Campidoglio, Turin

In the heart of this borgo sits Museo di Arte Urbana (Museum of Urban Art), an open-air route with more than 180 artworks painted on the walls of the buildings in the neighborhood. The urban revival project aims to bring life back to the village after nearby factories shut down, with bright and cheerful murals that welcome both residents and visitors alike; we recommend taking a volunteer-led guided tour through the town to learn more about the project. The tour is also customizable for those in wheelchairs, and those who are blind or deaf.

Il Pratello, Bologna

In Bologna’s centro storico is a 600-meter stretch called the Galleria D’arte Pubblica Pratello (Pratello public art gallery), organized by the Associazione Arti Povere Pratello and features street artists like Andrea Ciscu, Bastardilla, Ericailcane, NemO’s, Sharko, and Alice Pasquini. Most of the art is focused on social and political events in the history of the neighborhood and the city, with murals of past figures like partisan Mario Musolesi, and an homage to the city’s infamous free radio station from the 70s, Radio Alice.

Advertising: If you want to see these works of art, plan your trip and book your accommodation with the help of cozycozy accommodation comparison site.