The Italy Edit: In Praise of Street Artists

Sure Northern Italy’s got The Uffizi, La Scala and the Arena di Verona but if you want to see TRUE living, breathing art and theatre, look no further than the artists who perform daily in the sweltering open-air heat of the cities. These creative souls definitely deserve more than a little attention. The following are a few of my favourites from a recent visit.

Verona: Contortionists

Travel Edits | The Italy Edit: In Praise of Street Artists

How did they do it?

His arm is fake – no, her arm is fake…are both of their arms fake ? Is she even real? You could stand on Verona’s Via Mazzini for hours trying to figure out how this pair managed to pull off the illusion of levitation. Still haven’t cracked it. Anyone got any suggestions?

Florence: Bob Marley and the…Puppets

It’s impossible to watch this clip without wanting to quit your job and run away to a life on the road. And why not? Just look at the couple, they’re adorable. Plus they get to play with puppets and dance to Bob Marley all day. No wonder they’re so happy. Also, I loved how the little boy was enthralled with the character played by the girl, even initiating a bit of a dance-off…

Venice: St Mark’s Square and those Pigeons

Travel Edits | The Italy Edit: In Praise of Street Artists

I know he’s not Italian, but I have always associated St Mark’s Square with French impressionist Claude Monet. As a child he was my favourite artist and many rainy days were spent at the kitchen table trying to replicate ‘The Poppy Fields’ or ‘The Waterlillies’. But what does this have to do with street artists? Well, probably the first image I ever saw of St Mark’s Square was a black and white photograph of Claude Monet and his wife Alice surrounded by pigeons. So when I got to Venice of course I wanted to experience it for myself. €1 will buy you a handful of popcorn seeds and some scary, but unforgettable encounters with the square’s most famous residents. Just be careful though, those claws are sharper than they look!

Lake Como: Nefertiti in the Kitchen and a Tassa di Café

Click to play: Tassa di Café

11pm, Piazza del Duomo, Lake Como. A tall skinny girl in brogues and a floral tea-dress traipses across the square carrying a suitcase, a hat, a ukelele and a tiny keyboard. Before too long, a large crowd is gathering to listen and watch her perform a song that could easily be the soundtrack to any travel adventure. In case it’s captured your imagination too, the artist is called Nefertiti in the Kitchen and the song is Tassa di Café from the album ‘Purple Lady’. By the way, I have never seen a suitcase fill so quickly with €10 notes…



  1. 11th September 2012 / 6:33 pm

    That top photo still has me staring at it. What the heck? And what a beautiful photo of you with the pigeons…so very happy and incredibly stylish to boot!

    • Fiona
      12th September 2012 / 9:10 pm

      Thanks Leah I think I was half wincing, half smiling! Great memory though!

  2. 12th September 2012 / 10:42 am

    Wow, how did they do that one? Seriously impressed with the contortionists. I will keep my eyes open for more of these 😉

    • Fiona
      12th September 2012 / 9:09 pm

      I still can’t figure it out Ana!

  3. 12th September 2012 / 2:13 pm

    Someone explained the floating person thing to me once, but this one has me baffled. In the one I saw, the cane went all the way to the ground and supposedly there’s a ledge that comes out of the sleeve somehow. But here the other guy is holding the cane! I’m stumped.

  4. Fiona
    12th September 2012 / 9:12 pm

    Yeah I think the woman’s legs are definitely fake and maybe his arm – perhaps there is a rod coming through the can and the arm and some sort of a ledge – only way I can explain it..!

  5. 13th September 2012 / 11:57 pm

    The artists are great, especially the levitating couple (seriously, how DO they do it??), but your picture with the pigeons steals the show! You look so happy in it – what a great travel moment! And I love the hat. 🙂

  6. 28th June 2013 / 12:02 pm

    I always think that street performers (as long as they aren’t to gimmicky) add something to any city. It’s cheap and entertaining and brings a smile to your face.

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