Madonarro (n.)- an Italian word stemming from the Renaissance meaning street painter or artist.
Florence is perhaps one of the most famous art destinations around the world. The museums and churches are known around the world and attract thousands, if not millions of tourists every year. But did you know Firenze is also famous for its street art? And I don’t mean graffiti but literally, art painted with chalk on the street surface.
Chalk drawing is a fairly new form of art but it is very widely practiced in Florence. Some drawings take about 2-3 days to finish and most mimic classic works of art, many of which are displayed in Florentine museums. Artists can rent the space from the city, which would guarantee that the city cleaning crews will not wash away their work (which would be fairly easy, as you know, its all made with chalk). The artists are given a space of about 10×10 feet, although I’ve seen both smaller and larger works being done, depending on how many people were working on the piece.
Most madonarros work in teams, which is also in part due to a law which regulates the number of hours each street artist can work. Although it may not seem like it, this is a really tough job. Each madonarro spends hours kneeling on the sidewalk, hunched over their work. Tourists passing by and taking photographs of the artists usually leave a tip of about couple of euros.
The paintings are washed away at night, once they’re done. It certainly seems unfortunate, but to each madonarro, its an opportunity to create something new and to us, tourists, an endless opportunity to watch art happen from start to finish.