It’s easy to get overwhelmed by history when you visit Italy. Everywhere you go, there’s architecture dating back to Ancient Rome, centuries-old culinary traditions, and an almost infinite collection of historical works of art.
These are all wonderful things to see in Florence, but what about contemporary Florence? Everywhere you go, 21st century Italy is bustling around you. As a tourist, how do you tap into Italy’s dynamically evolving culture?
Taking a walk in the streets is an excellent way to see contemporary art in Florence. In recent years street art in Florence has exploded, with a handful of names making waves in the art world.
We’ll draw your attention to some of the biggest names in Florentine street art so you can keep an eye out for their work as you wander the city.
Perhaps one of the most notorious voices in the city’s street art scene, Blub’s repurposed versions of classic artworks have been getting attention for years.
Little is known about the artist other than they’re a native Florentine. Blub’s work can be found throughout Florence on walls, electrical meters and in empty urban spaces.
Blurb’s signature style involves recreating famous works of art… in scuba gear. Whether it’s Botticelli’s Venus wearing a scuba mask or Michelangelo’s David blowing air bubbles, you’re likely to spot Blub’s work as you walk through the streets. Is it a comment on art history, past vs. present, or permanent vs. temporary? Only Blub knows for sure, and their identity is a well-kept secret.
Street artist Clet Abraham has been providing his playful take on street signs in Florence since 1996. Keep an eye out for his whimsical and political statements throughout Florence — from a giant nose on a medieval castle tower, to social and political commentary via artfully reworked street signs.
Il Sedicente Moradi
You’re not limited to two dimensions when it comes to exploring Florentine street art. Il Sedicente Moradi has been peppering the city with street sculpture now for some time. His work features animals and humans organically crafted from found pieces of wood. A classically trained artist, Il Sedicente Moradi prefers the more colorful and democratic platform of the streets over having his art trapped in a gallery. The result is a delightful juxtaposition to the urban environment.
Exit/Enter makes beguiling line drawings that turn everyday objects or places into miniature vignettes. A playful commentary on modern life in Florence, his work can be found in unexpected places. Keep an eye out for his simple stick figures, bold lines, and pops of red hearts and flowers.
Where to find Florentine street art
Now that you know who and what to look for, you’ll want to head to specific Florence neighborhoods where street art thrives. Head to Oltrarno, on the calmer south side of the Arno River. Here you’ll find a variety of art on main streets as well as in allies, nooks and crannies.
To explore further, try San Niccolò and the neighbouring Santo Spirito district, east of Ponte Vecchio. Here you’ll find some of Clet Abraham’s stickers and a variety of pieces from other anonymous artists. Remember, when it comes to finding street art, it’s best to keep your feet moving but your eyes and your mind open.