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Graffiti in Italy... What do you think of it?

Scroll down for photos of the horrific graffiti you will encounter in Italy

A Question

I am often asked is "why is there so much graffiti in Italy?"

The Answer: 

In centuries past, young Italians signed off on some of the greatest art the world has ever seen. Michelangelo was in his early twenties when he created Pietà, one of his most beautiful statues. Now, they sign off with scribbles on walls😢

Why do they do it?

Well, some say that even in Roman times, there was graffiti, so we should just accept it as a part of Italian culture.

Others say it is pure vandalism and shouldn't be tolerated.

Mostly, though, the modern phenomenon of "tagging" (tagging is the art of scribbling your signature on a wall) has nothing to do with Roman traditions. Instead, it is closely tied to hip-hop culture, which emerged in the United States in the 1970s.

As hip-hop spread globally, including to Italy, its elements, such as graffiti art, became integrated into the local urban culture. Graffiti artists viewed tagging as a way to express their artistic freedom outside of traditional art institutions. The streets became an unconventional gallery for self-expression.

Personally, I hate it!

I think Michelangelo expressed himself better.

Tourists to Rome might visit the Vatican, the Spanish Steps or one of the top Rome attractions we wrote about here. Whichever they choose there is one sight they are guaranteed to see... the horrendous graffiti overwhelming the city.

In smaller towns, where locals, young and old, still have great pride in their towns, it is far less common.

However, in cities like Milan, Rome, and Naples, it seems out of control; every street seems to be scarred by it. Even Venice fights a continual battle with local youth, who seem to believe a scribble of paint will add immense value to the priceless treasures and beautiful palaces of the city.

Can they not see what a hideous scar they are leaving on the faces of their own beloved cities? Can they not see the damage they are creating?

Italy and Italians have one priceless asset: the glorious history bestowed upon them by their ancestors.

To destroy that is tragically sad.

Let's teach our children to celebrate the great gifts of the past, to preserve them for future generations, and to love them.

Typical Italian Graffiti

grafitti in Italy
a train in Italy covered in graffiti
Graffiti in Naples, Italy

Most Italian graffiti is horrible, like that shown in the photos above. Sometimes, though, you do get to see beautiful exceptions, like the one at the end of the video and the ones in the photos below.

I wish all Italian graffiti looked like this; I could live with it then, as this is truly art.

Unfortunately, I hardly ever see anything even vaguely decent, just thousands and thousands of those horrible scribbles.

Beautiful Graffiti

Beautiful graffiti in Italy
Graffiti on a house in Rome

A Story about Graffiti and American Tourists...

Why do Italians love American and Australian tourists? An experience from last summer may shed some light on the reasons...

I was enjoying dinner with a family in a small town in Liguria, a town that has started to get more tourists. After dinner, over a glass or two of limoncello, they told me how much they love American and Australian tourists.

"Why?" I asked. "

The head of the family, Silvia, replied, "Because they are all emigrants and they find their past and their stories here.

Visiting us in Italy, they appreciate everything so much; they are so excited and eager to learn; they value what we have. Ok, not all of them, but most."

She continued: "Italians, especially many young Italians, have forgotten that.

The passion for Italy of Americans, Canadians, and Australians makes me, my family, my friends, and many Italians value what we have.

Too many Italians take our heritage for granted and destroy the works of our forefathers with things like graffiti, abusive construction, and litter. It is disgusting.

Sometimes Americans and other foreigners make us feel ashamed of our behavior as Italians, and that is a good thing."

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