Italians on Italians
Beyond Toscano

Mosaics, masterpieces in pieces

Mosaics are one of Italy’s oldest art-forms, combining the expressive with the architectural, they date back hundreds of years, when simple black and white patterns made from the arrangements of small tiles were created to striking effect. But it was when genuine artists cast their eye, and talents, to mosaics that the art-form really soared in popularity.

Their grand scale, yet unobtrusive nature, makes them ideal for decoration of public spaces. Christian and Byzantine cultures both embraced mosaics, decorating floors and walls with detailed depictions of legends or stories from the Bible. The town of Ravenna, which once took over from Rome as capital of the Western Empire, in particular has a wealth of mosaics, preserved to this day

One of Italy’s most famous mosaics is a 100BC depiction of a battle between Alexander the Great and the Persian army. Discovered in notorious Pompeii, it was rescued and is now proudly on display in the National Archeological Museum in Naples. It’s just one of many famous Italian mosaics recognized by UNESCO World heritage as being of global historical significance. Not bad for what was once just a pile of terracotta tiles.