The Monumental Conversation on Italian Public Statues

Mar 23, 2023 293

BY: Francesco Dama

The last few years have seen the United States deeply re-think public sculptures following Black Lives Matter protests, inspiring similar demonstrations and conversations around the globe. And yet, there’s been no such reckoning here in Italy–particularly surprising in a country where such statues are superabundant. Old nations, Nietzsche said, have a tendency to monumentalize themselves–to which Italian journalist Ennio Flaiano dovetailed that, in our country, this process will never end. 

Italians have never been shy of putting people (and animals) on pedestals: Michelangelo’s David has been standing next to the entrance to Florence’s town hall, in Piazza della Signoria, since 1504 (it was replaced by a copy only in 1910); a bronze sculpture of St. Mark’s lion watches over Venetians passing by the city’s cathedral; sculptures by Bernini adorn Rome’s public fountains. 

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