Tuscany is famous for its Medieval and Renaissance Art, with Siena, Pisa and Florence being the highlights of the region. But this doesn’t mean that those passionate about contemporary art won’t find something to enjoy. Here we explore the Top Contemporary Art experiences in Tuscany. Starting with Florentine art galleries, the Pecci Museum in Prato and wondrous little towns like Pietrasanta or Peccioli.
Where to see Contemporary Art in Tuscany
Any art lover should start their creative exploration in Florence. The major city in Tuscany, Florence has been a magnet for artists for centuries. Apart from a number of small private art galleries that you can visit – like Galleria 360 (Borgo Ognissanti) or Firenze Art Gallery (near San Frediano) – the starting point is Palazzo Strozzi, this today is the number one venue for international artists who exhibit their work in Florence. A Renaissance Palace, it matches handsome architecture with contemporary artworks, creating a fascinating dialogue between past and present.
The same is true of the Marino Marini Museum. This small museum is one of our favourite places to enjoy contemporary art in Florence. Here you can explore the imaginative world of Tuscan-born Marino Marini (1901-1980). Famous for his works depicting horses and riders, the collection shows a variety of work that shows his progression as an artist, from the figurative to the more essential and abstract.
Every second year Florence hosts the Florence Biennale, a multidisciplinary event in the Fortezza da Basso, dedicated to contemporary art and design.
See more in details Where to see Contemporary Art in Florence.
PRATO, Pecci Contemporary Art Centre
Nearby Florence, in the town of Prato, you find the Centre for Contemporary Art Pecci. It opened his doors in 1988 and has become a point of reference for anyone who loves contemporary art and design. It’s a vast centre, complete with a cinema, a bookshop, and aims at exploring influences, trends, and the dialogue between art and contemporary society. With 1000 artworks and installations, it’s a place that delves into today’s creativity, exhibitions and a range of educational projects and special events.
PIETRASANTA, Italy’s Little Athens
We can’t talk about contemporary art in Tuscany without mentioning Pietrasanta. This small town near the Versilia coast is known as “Little Athens” and it’s easy to see why. For centuries it has been an important centre for marble working, because of its location. Pietrasanta is in fact close to the Apuan Alps, the marble rich mountains where artists have been quarrying marble for their creation for centuries.
Today Pietrasanta honours its artistic tradition with a range of private art galleries, a museum dedicated to the art of sculpture, and contemporary art installations that dot the town’s streets. You can find a detailed map with the list of artworks currently displayed around town and the information centre. Some are permanent, some change throughout the year. We have a soft spot for Botero’s frescoes of Heaven and Hell in the tiny Church of the Misericordia.
The top venue for art exhibits in Pisa is the Palazzo Blu. As the name suggests, this historic palace has a bright light blue facade and stands out in the beautiful Pisa Lungarni, overlooking the river Arno. It has a permanent collection of paintings (from 1400 to 1800) and regularly hosts modern and contemporary art exhibitions during the year. You’ll find emerging Italian artists and international names, in collaboration with great art museums around the world. Find out what’s on the official site.
While in Pisa, check out the beautiful mural by the iconic Keith Haring TuttoMondo, painted in 1989 on an exterior wall of the Convent Frati Servi di Maria (in Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II). 180 square meters of colours and pure emotions. Nearby, in via Silvio Pellico, Kobra has painted a new mural (October 2023) of a giant Galileo exploring the universe with Pisa Tower.
GAMeC CentroArteModerna in Pisa from 1976, an historical space for artists to exhibit and sell their work.
Near Pisa – Peccioli, Pontedera, Lajatico
Near Pisa a few small towns devote themselves to contemporary art. Peccioli, since the early 90’s, has presented itself as a site in which to experiment with a new relationship between art and urban design. Art Magazine has called it ‘the small Italian capital of Contemporary Art’, with over sixty works created specifically for the territory.
Around the streets of the small town of Pontedera, seat of the Museo Piaggio (home to the iconic Vespa) you find art installations and the Centro Sete Sois Sete Luas. Last stop is Lajatico, to visit the Teatro del Silenzio, a natural amphitheatre surrounded by hills that hosts concerts and art installations.
Go and explore the beautiful countryside around Volterra to search for the sculptures of Mauro Staccioli, geometric forms that perfectly interact with those soft undulating Tuscan hills.
SIENA and SAN GIMIGNANO
Check out what’s on at Palazzo delle Papesse, Centro Arte Contemporanea in Siena, where you also find some small galleries. In the Medieval wonderland that is San Gimignano you find an interesting space for contemporary art, the Galleria Continua.
South of Siena, immersed in the lunar landscape of the Crete Senesi, you find the ‘Site Transoire’ by Jean-Paul Philippe.
You find contemporary art exhibitions at Lucca Contemporary Art Centre LU.C.C.A., inside Renaissance palace Palazzo Boccella, a few steps from the lovely Piazza Anfiteatro. The Lucca Art Fair takes place in April 2024. And, of course, every year Lucca hosts Lucca Comics, the annual comic book and gaming convention in Lucca, traditionally held at the end of October.
In the coastal town of Viareggio, famous for its Carnival, you find the Modern and Contemporary Art Gallery, that hosts artworks of over 700 artists of the 20th century, with a great collection of local artists, including expressionist artist Lorenzo Viani.
Contemporary Art in Tuscany – Parks and Gardens
The Chianti Sculpture Park opened in 2004, to explore the possibilities of interaction between nature and art. You find it near Pievesciata, a tiny hamlet surrounded by the scenic Chianti landscape. After a wonder through the park, have a wonder around Pievesciata, where art has invaded the sleepy streets of the hamlet.
In Garavicchio, near Capalbio, in the southern part of the Maremma, lies a very unusual park created by French artist Niki de Saint Phalle. A dreamlike, colourful, imaginative world not unlike /inspired by Gaudì. A place where contemporary art and symbolism meets nature.
The Giardino di Daniel Spoerri is an enchanting park dotted with sculptures, created bu Swiss artist in Seggiano, at the foot of the Mount Amiata.