60% of the world’s greatest art is within Italy-so where does one begin?
Italy is incredibly rich in artistic wonders, with every city and region home to at least one iconic masterpiece. It’s so abundant with troves of paintings, sculpture and architecture, that it’s almost impossible to sightsee around without seeing a priceless work of art. But with so many options available, it’s hard to know where to begin. We’ve made it a bit easier for you! Listing our top favourite pieces of artworks in our favourite Italian regions, to help you figure out where you should go on your Italian adventure!
The Last Supper, Milan
It is undoubtedly one of the world’s most recognisable paintings in the entire world. Created by Leonardo da Vinci in 1495, the painting portrays the evening before Christ was betrayed, with the moment captured after Christ has told his disciples that one disciple that one would betray him before sunrise. Regarded as history’s most influential works of art, with Leonardo building on the early Renaissance style in areas such as composition and perspective. As well, it is innovative in emotional reactions and psychological states and captures a naturalism in both the figures and food which was unheard previously.
All roads in Italy lead to Rome, and all roads in Rome lead to the Vatican, with all roads in the Vatican leading to the Sistine. Making this one site one of the most important attractions in all of Europe. Built on the basic foundation of an ancient chapel, this building was commissioned by the Pope Sixtus IV in the 1470s. But it wasn’t until 1508 when Pope Julius II commissioned the ceiling to have a revamp and lead to the incredibly famous artwork by Michelangelo. Bold and beautiful frescos cover both the walls and ceilings of this historic chapel, with Michelangelo’s ceiling design depicting three hundred figures all with significance symbols and meanings to them. The crick in your neck will be well worth it, as this stunning masterpiece needs to be seen to be believed!
The Birth of Venus, Florence
Regarded as Sandro Botticelli’s greatest work, the stunning painting of ‘The Birth of Venus’ is a stunning portrayal of the goddess of love and beauty arriving on land. The piece symbolizes a number of significant subjects, including the rebirth of civilization, a new hope, and social and cultural shift which occurred after the Middle Age turmoil. The entire artwork aims to evoke all the viewer’s sensory departments, with it said that this early Renaissance painting changed the way society perceived the female body by glorifying its divine beauty of sensuality and subtlety.
Villa of the Mysteries, Pompeii
Pompeii is flooded with ancient frescos, but undeniably the greatest found in the Villa of Mysteries. It is unknown who created this masterpiece, but the grandeur of it is obvious, found in a private home of a past rich roman. It contains three continuous frescos which cover three large walls with the entire artwork meant to be read as a single narrative. The fresco portrays a scene of a ritual ceremony, which seems to be aimed at preparing privileged, protected girls for the psychological transition to life as married women. As there are few written records, we know little about these rites of passages, but the Villa of Mysteries provides historians with a better glimpse into the life of a Pompeii woman.
It is undoubtedly one of the most recognisable sculptures in existence, known to most as ‘Michelangelo’s David’. Standing at 17 feet tall, it depicts David glaring at his enemy Goliath just before the battle, portraying a famous story told in Book 1 Samuel. The statue is a symbol of the power and faith of Florentines for over 500 years, listed as one of the most beloved artworks in the entire city. It is impeccably realistic, with an imposing perfection that enthrals every viewer who lays an eye on it. The sculpture is found in one of Florence’s galleries, sitting under a skylight which was designed for him in the 19th century by Emilio de Fabris.
La Tempesta, Venice
Created in 1508, La Tempesta, also known as ‘The Tempest’, is known as a mysterious and poetic painting that contributed to the artist, Giorgio Barbarelli da Castelfranco, importance to the Venetian painting during the High Renaissance. It is regarded as a painting of two halves, foreground and background with very little related. The foreground portrays a nude woman holding a baby near a bank, but her focus on the viewer. On the opposite side portrays a fashionably dressed young man who has stopped to look at the woman. The entire background contains an urban landscape with several fine buildings including a temple. The identity of the city is still unclear to this day, with some historians believing it to be Padua while others think it is Heaven. The mystery of what the background has led to many theories about the meaning of this picture. But despite the numerous opinions, the symbols, style, and composition make it one of the most unique paintings of its generation. committee
Laocoön and His Sons, Vatican City
This pure white marble statue stands up 8 feet in height and is made out of seven interlocking pieces of marble. The artwork portrays the story of Laocoön, which is from the Greek Epic Cycle that was a collection of poems that details the Trojan Wars. The story describes Laocoön, who was a priest from troy, being attacked, along with his two sons Antiphantes and Thymbraeus, by sea serpents sent by a god. Created in the Hellenistic period, this sculpture is sure to take anyone’s breath away. Depicting the three almost lifelike figures, struggling with the creatures, with art critics detailing how one figure is beaten, one suffering, and the last perhaps escaping. The realism of its anatomy and for the variety of expression in the figures regards it as one of the greatest works of arts from its time.
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