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Museums of Italy
Art Periods in Italy

Italy is an art lover's paradise. It has been likened to one vast museum. No other country in the world has such a rich heritage of artistic creativity. A UNESCO study placed 40% of the art of the world in Italy. For your convenience, we highlight different art periods and list some of the most outstanding museums, art galleries and archaeological sites related to these periods.

Prehistoric Civilizations

Where: Balzi Rossi caves near Ventimiglia, The Sassi at Matera, the Graffiti in Valcamonica.

Archaeological sites: Sites and caves in Apulia, Sicily, Sardinia and Lombardy.

Museums: at Reggio Emilia, Bologna, Ancona, Perugia, Matera, Taranto, Syracuse, Agrigento, Lipari, Cagliari, Pigorini Museum in Rome, Lunense Museum in La Spezia.

The Etruscans (8th to 2nd centuries BC)

Where: Mostly central Italy.

Archaeological sites: Populonia, Vetulonia, Island of Elba, Volterra, Fiesole, Arezzo, Ortona, Chiusi, Roselle, Perugia, Orvieto, Todi, Tarquina, Bolsena, Norcia, Cerveteri, Vulci and Veio.

Museums: Villa Giulia Museum in Rome, the Archaeological Museum in Florence, Civic Museum in Bologna, Museums of Tarquinia, Volterra, Orvieto, Chiusi.

Magna Grecia (8th to 3rd centuries BC)

Where: Greek or Greek-influenced art, mostly in southern Italy.

Archaeological sites: The Valley of the Temples at Agrigento, Doric Temples at Paestum and Segesta, Cuma, Velio, Crotone, Sibari, Locri, Squillace, Metaponto, Nova, Siri, Taranto, Siracusa, Selinunte, Naxos and Taormina.

Museums: The National Museum in Naples, Vatican Museum, Museo Ridola at Matera, the Museums at Reggio Calabria, Palermo, Catania, Messina, Agrigento, Paestum and Syracuse.

Roman Period (8th century BC to 5th century AD)

Where: The main Roman buildings (bridges, theatres, acqueducts, roads, etc.) are naturally in Rome itself and its environs (Ostia Antica, Tivoli) and at but other notable remains are also at Turin, Susa, Aosta, Milan, Brescia, Sirmione, Trieste, Aquileia, Verona, Rimini, Bologna, Ancona, Ascoli Piceno, Gubbio, Narni, Spoleto, Fiesole, Arezzo, Syracuse, Catania, Taormina, Lumi, Nora and Oristano.

Archaeological sites: Pompeii and Herculaneum, Piazza Armerina in Sicily

Museums: The National Museum in Naples and several museums in Rome (Nationale Romano, Capitolini, Vaticano, Civilta' Romana, etc).

Early Christian and Late Medieval Art (4th to 11th centuries)

Where: The most remarkable churches of this long period are those of Ravenna, but other notable ones are in Roma, Tuscany, Spoleto, Milan, Padua, Stilo and Aquileia.

    Romanesque (11th to 12th centuries)

All over Italy are churches and buildings of this period with considerable regional differences. Artists began to create highly individual works within the general artistic and cultural framework of the period (Wiligelmo, Antelami, Cavallini, Cimabue, Duccio, etc).

Where: The main examples of Romanesque art are in Milan, Como, Pavia, Bergamo, Brescia, Venice, Torcello, Verona, Trento, Modena, Parma, Piacenza, Fidenza, Bologna, Pomposa, Ferrara, Florence, Pisa, Lucca, Siena, Pistoia, Arezzo, Rome, Amalfi, Bari, Barletta, Trani, Palermo, Monreale, Cefalu and many other Italian towns.

Gothic (12th to 14th centuries)

Where: The most important buildings are at Vercelli, Chiaravalle, Fossanova, Casamari, San Galgano, Florence, Siena, Pisa, Pistoia, Arezzo, Milan, Como Pavia, Bergamo, Venice, Padua, Verona, Vicenza. The main artist of the period was Giotto (especially in the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua, St. Francis Basilica in Assisi, Peruzzi and Bardi Chapels in Santa Croce in Florence)

Renaissance (15th to 16th centuries)

Where: The Renaissance is probably the single most important artistic and cultural movement in the history of Western Civilization, a movement which also pointed the way for many future European achievements in the arts. It began in Florence at the dawn of the 15th century. The works of artists of this period enrich not just Italy but many other countries, though it is obviously in Italy that you find the richest art collections, buildings, churches, etc. This is the age that gave the world Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Titian, Donatello, Piero della Francesca, Mantegna, Antonello da Messina, Carpaccio, Giorgione, Paolo Uccello and many others.

Museums:
The most outstanding art collections of the Renaissance are The Uffizi Gallery, Pitti Palace Gallery and San Marco Museum in Florence; Vatican Picture Gallery and Borghese Museum in Rome; Brera Gallery in Milan; Accademia Gallery in Venice; Capodimonte Museum in Naples; the Turin Picture Gallery; the Perugia National Gallery; the Parma National Gallery; the Urbino National Gallery.

Mannerism (16th to 17th centuries)

Where: Palladio and Caravaggio are the supreme artists of this age but many others developed the Renaissance ideals in churches, palaces, architectural complexes and paintings, especially Cellini, Sansovino, Pontormo, Bronzino, Correggio, Tintoretto, Veronese, etc. The main works are found all over northern and central Italy.

Museums: Most of the Renaissance art galleries display their paintings.

Baroque (17th to 18th centuries)

Where: The work of artists of these periods, in particular Bernini, Borromini, Longhena, Juvara, Vanvitelli, Canaletto, Carracci, Domenichino, Reni, Guardi, Longhi, Tiepolo and Bellotto, are found all over Italy but especially in Rome, Venice, Turin, Parma, Modena, Bologna, Milan, Naples, Caserta, Lecce, Palermo, Catania, Syracuse and Noto.

Neo-Classicism and Romanticism (18th to 20th centuries)

Where: The main work of the artists of these periods are in Rome (especially Canova), Milan, Naples and Firenze.

Museums: The most important modern art collections are in Rome, Florence, Venice, Milan, Naples, Genoa, the Canova Museum in Possagno and the Civic Museum in Trieste.

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