The Madonnari are a group of street artists who decorate the pavement with sacred and non-sacred images. They have been exercising this ancient art form in Florence since the 1200s.
For centuries, the Madonnari were itinerant folk artists who used crude materials like charcoal and chalk to depict sacred images and icons, usually the Virgin Mary, during religious festivals and holy days throughout Italy.
It is widely believed that the art of the Madonnaro was born with the one of the greatest forebearers of the Italian Renaissance, Giotto. Florence’s modern-day Madonnari now create works in chalk on the city’s stone streets, often producing striking copies of masterworks, many of which are still religious in theme.
These very unique artists work everyday on via Calimala, just a block or two away from Piazza Repubblica.
Many of Florence’s Madonnari are full-time artists whose only source of income is making art; many have their own studios in Florence and spend one day a week to excute on via Calimala to stay in contact with people.