Graffiti 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).