October 12, 2011 / Art & Archaeology
Casoli, Tuscany
casoli6Graffiti as a work of art? Amid the complaints of tourists and locals alike that graffiti is an eyesore, there is one place where it is considered a treasure. Casoli is a small village carved into the side of a steep ravine in Northern Tuscany. Each year a contest is held in June for examples of sgraffito, an ancient technique used to transpose sketches and drawing onto walls. The projects are then left in place and the walls of the village become one big art installation.

On the contest weekend, you can wander the lanes watching the artists apply the design to freshly prepared plaster using a “cartoon”. As they wet the plaster and begin to etch the designs, you can feel the art come alive.

Dear Readers,
“Regarding this note, we would like to mention a critical issue of terminology that this issue raises: Graffiti is indeed a broad term; it includes art and vandalism. Murals and other creative designs rendered on walls where permission has been given by the owner or public authority fall within the former, tags and other unwanted and unauthorized marks fall within the latter. We must defend art while combatting vandalism.”
Many thanks to Rebecca Spitzmiller and Lori Hickey at Retake Rome for this clarification!
Best, ed.



– Contributed by Trish Barrett, retired teacher, who loves traveling (currently about 3 to 4 months a year!), especially in Italy. She writes at One Foot Out the Door, and her photos are visible here (the album links at the top are clickable).

5 Responses to “Sgraffito…”

  1. I enjoyed Tris Barrett article. While in Italy I was struck by the beautiful graffiti I photographed in the various small towns. I am glad that the citizens of Casoli have the wisdom and dedication to encourage this art form that come from the forgotten and often misunderstood members of our society. I think of a passage my M.C. Richards.
    The artist in the person,
    knows we can’t suddenly be a certain way.
    We can’t suddenly be mature, be independent, be free, be peaceful.
    We have to become what we are willing to become.
    Inner grow takes time and trust,
    it takes a sense of the seed forces in ourselves.
    It takes steadiness, commitment, humor, and patience.
    Patience like a farmer has.

    I might add and what the graffiti artist has also.
    John Bellanti

  2. The art shown is not graffiti, though. In Rome and other cities, we are plagued by thoughtless graffiti, most of which is tagging, just an initial or name. The article describes the fresco technique. I don’t think those artists have to work under cover of darkness to apply their paint to the wall like those with spray cans do. True graffiti is a blight on society.

  3. This is not graffiti. Go to my brother’s town in Como and you will be disgusted. People who live in the center have to put plastic shields up to protect their beautiful buildings they call home. I guess like anywhere, Italian youth have nothing better to do than spoil what’s beautiful. It’s ashame.

  4. This would ALMOST pry me away from Venice! It must really be something to see happening before your eyes.


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