Italy: Painting the Town of Dozza

In a small hill town near Bologna, Italy, a remarkable event takes place every other year. Dozza is internationally known for its Biennial of Contemporary Art “Il Muro Dipinto” (The Painted Walls). Since 1960, international artists have been invited to paint the houses of this small medieval village between Emilia and Romagna, known as one of the most beautiful villages in Italy.

The objectives of this event are to give exposure to some of the finest living international artists by providing them with a unique “canvas” on which to paint their imaginative ideas and, over time, to cover the entire village with their artistic murals.


Painting from the window     The Discussion

Restaurant     Entry mural     Smart


The results are stunning. The counterpoint of a medieval background for contemporary art is something that few people other than the Italians could do so well. The art ranges from stylized abstract concepts to highly defined figurative works, some with an obvious sense of humor.

Claudio Bonichi's "Moon Mask"
Claudio Bonichi’s “Moon Mask”

This year, there were 21 participating artists from origins as diverse as Italy, Japan, Germany and South America, each bringing their own unique perspective.

Claudio Bonichi

Claudio Bonichi, a well known Italian artist, created a fresco-like work with a surrealistic feel wherein the moon becomes a Venetian mask. Claudio hopes to open a school in Dozza to teach young artists the art of fresco painting which will add to the longevity of the murals as they are exposed to the outdoor elements.  If a mural begins to degrade, an effort is made to carefully remove it from the walls and reinstall it in a permanent exhibit space in the city museum.

Dozza CastleThe castle alone is worth the trip and, for wine lovers, “Enoteca Regionale Emilia Romagna” is located in the lower level. The Enoteca is a beautiful exposition of the wines, olive oils and other specialties of Emilia Romagna. There are 800 different wines available at below retail prices. The Enoteca has two beautiful tasting rooms. Over 200 wineries and cooperatives are members. The president, Gian Alfonso Roda, is very helpful and loves receiving wine enthusiasts from all over the world.

The combination of contemporary fine art displayed in a unique setting, excellent regional cuisine and exceptional wines is worth the effort to see, taste and experience. When in Bologna, make a side trip to Dozza.

Photographs by Robert Sterling Scott.