Once the centre of intense commercial activity, the Darsena area of Ravenna, located just a few steps away from the historical centre, has experienced a radical development in the last few years, and has turned into a desirable residential area, an entertainment and gastronomic centre and a hotbed of artistic and cultural projects.
One of the most successful projects was the one that made this area a true open-air museum of urban art in continuous expansion.
With more than eighty works scattered all around the city, most of which are located in this area, Ravenna has become a reference point for street art on a national and international level.
Here is an itinerary of a few hours to discover the most modern part of the city, between industrial archaeology and nice bars.
The itinerary is very nice both on foot and by bike.
Consider some detours to the area of the Stadium and to the historical centre to discover other – incredible – works, related to Dante Alighieri, Ravenna and its history.
This artistic project has been possible thanks to Festival Subsidenze (curated by Marco “Bonobolabo” Miccoli of Associazione Indastria), which, in collaboration with the Department of Youth Policies of the Municipality of Ravenna, has invited artists from all over the world since 2014.
Whether or not one arrives in Ravenna by train, the underpass connecting viale Pallavicini – next to the railway station – to the head of the Darsena could be the perfect starting point of this itinerary.
Along its walls, you will see an uninterrupted series of graffiti carried out by local and guest artists, who have created a very varied gallery of works. The images are sometimes ironic, sometimes dramatic – but every one of them has its own depth, is related to Ravenna and its history but also to humans and their unchangeable nature.
If you walk for a few hundred metres along the right side of the Candiano Canal, in via D’Alaggio, and then look towards the other bank behind the modern building hosting the Port Authority, you will see one of the most important and imposing works by the street artist from Belluno Ericailcane, called “P.G.R.”.
An enormous sea monster is about to eat a lifeboat crammed with anthropomorphic mice calling for salvation.
Painted on a wall of the abandoned Martini feed mill, the mural seems to recall a new awareness of the dangers of modernity.
As you enter the small maze of alleys surrounding Artificerie Almagià, you will come across a series of other interesting works.
In via Magazzini Posteriori are the swirling birds by the Belgian Dzia, the dreamlike visions by Daniele Nitti aka HOPE, and the flesh and metal bird by Dissenso Cognitivo.
A little far away, the very intense and hopeful look of the firefighter by the Bolognese artist About Ponny.
The area is also dotted with smaller works, which can be found on the many houses or industrial buildings built in the last century and often recovered and restored.
Behind the Darsena area is via Trieste, one of the main roads leading from the centre of the city to the sea.
The first work that you encounter along this wide, tree-lined boulevard is The Last Kiss, a work realised by Pixel Pancho from Turin in which two robotic figures with human features hug and kiss, bringing to life and humanising what simply seems to be a set of mechanical components.
Not far away from here is La Scelta (lit. The Choice) by Gola Hundun, which explores the relationship between humankind and biospheres. A spiritual work, full of details and colours, that must be observed for a long time (or several times!) to be fully understood.
The last part of this tour concentrates on via Tommaso Gulli and the surrounding streets, an area which features even more works than the Darsena.
The first part of the street is dominated by City of Memories, created by the multifaceted German artist Jim Avignon.
An almost comic book-like vision of the most multi-ethnic neighbourhood of Ravenna through very colourful portraits of vivid characters, some of which are real, others are imaginary.
A few metres ahead, on the same side of the street, is an imposing mural created in 2017 by Reve+, in which the artist looks for a connection between the natural world and local history.
This step of the itinerary comes to an end with the Citadel of Street Art, inaugurated in 2019 and located at the end of via Gulli, featuring works by Ericailcane, Bastardilla, Basik, Zed1, Millo and others.
Very large and colourful pieces, which, with their very different styles and traits, perfectly live together in this open-air museum giving rise to emotions and thoughts on humankind and its relationship with what surrounds it – the world, nature – and what moves it from the inside – feelings, uncertainties, dreams.