Graffiti in Italy

Graffiti in Italy has gone from personal to political in order to reflect the current economic crisis.

Graffiti has been known in Italy since the ancient Romans, who decorated the walls of Pompeii and the catacomb with declarations of love, curses and magic spells. In fact the word ‘Graffiti’ derives from the Italian word ‘graffiare’ meaning to scratch something into a surface, and people in Italy still write their passions on the walls. Though lately – it seems to me – subject matters have changed from ‘Ti amo’ and ‘Forza La Juve’ to political statements. Could be, that  graffiti in Italy has gone from personal to political in order to reflect the current economic crisis. After all, the sense of crisis has become almost palpable in the south over the past months, where out-of-work Italians have taken up begging in competition with Romas and illegal immigrants.

graffiti in italy

The present graffiti examples have been collected in cities from Trento in north to Lecce in the south within the last year. And there are plenty of artistic uses of both aerosol cans and stencils to cheer up the otherwise rather depressing concrete walls.

graffiti in italy

Several of the statements refer to the ‘no TAV’ (“Treno ad Alta Velocità”) movement that started as a protest against high-speed trains in particular the railroads from Lyon in France to Torino. There are also a couple of juicy slogans about rebels and police uniforms. And the rather sad pollution warning, which could be seen all over Taranto a few days before the local  ‘lavoro o salute’ (work or health) referendum where no one wanted to vote.

Goes to prove that you can still read a lot about a society by reading the messages on the walls.

graffiti in italy

If you are interested in Grafitti in Italy you might also like these other notes on Italian street life

Italy and the love lock fad

Urban legend: Shoe tossing in Catania

Rome wall plaques: Those who came before Kilroy

16 replies
  1. Mary {The World Is A Book}
    Mary {The World Is A Book} says:

    I always learn something new. I didn’t know Graffiti was derived from an Italian word. These are some wonderful examples of people expressing themselves through art around Italy. It’s always fascinating to stop and look at graffiti at any city.

  2. Laurel
    Laurel says:

    I’m not a graffiti connoisseur, but I enjoy learning more about it and seeing the evolution in this case from a personal to political perspective. I think it can be incredibly reflective of what’s happening at a specific time and place. Even without being able to read Italian, I can tell that this is political.

  3. TheManInMilan
    TheManInMilan says:

    Great article – have seen some really great stuff in Milano in between the never ending collection of scribbles

  4. Sofia
    Sofia says:

    Barcelona has plenty of graffiti, some plain horrible and some others very artistic I must say. This graffiti here is artistic and also “looks more Italian” haha! (I’m no graffiti expert…)


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