The Macchiaioli Route

Route Responsibles: Rossignano Marittimo association of municipalities


The Macchiaioli were an italian artists group whose purpose was «to give with colored spots the impressions they received from the reality” wrote the sculptor Cecioni. This expression is coming from “macchia” which means “spot” but also employed as a synonymous of sketch. It was used for the first time in november 1863 in “La gazetta del popolo”


Diego Martelli (1838-1896), an art critic, invited in his Castiglioncello property all the painters (Macchiaioli) who used to meet at the florentin café Michelangiolo: Abbati, Boldini, Cabianca, Fattori, Signorini, Zandomeneghi… His personality is essential to approach this movement and to understand its links with french Impressionism… As a friend of Guillaumin, Pissarro, Manet, Degas and of the art critic Duranty, he made efforts  to facilitate the understanding of the Impressionism movement and share with Macchiaioli the Risorgimento’s struggles and the artistic fights,  dreaming to give to the new italian nation an expressive language more modern and out of academic retrograde teaching.

Giuseppe Abbati

(Naples 1836 - Florence 1868)

Giuseppe Abbati was the pupil of his father in Naples then of Grigoletti in Venice where he formed a friendship with Signorini. After his participation to the military campaign of Garibaldi, he set up in Florence where he worked on the Pergentina gardens and at Martelli house in Castiglioncello; he set up at Castelnuovo della Misericorda where he died.


Giovanni Boldini

(Ferrare 1842 - Paris 1931)

Giovanni Boldini studied in Florence Academy where he discovered the Macchiaioli group before attending the school of Resina, near Naples, in 1866. The following year he was at the Universal Exposition in Paris and decorated the villa La Falconiera in Pistoia in 1870. This year he was invited in London then set up in Paris. He participated successfully to the parisian Salon in 1874. Later, he visited Spain with his friend Edgar Degas and participated to the Expositions organized by the gallery owner Georges Petit.



Vincenzo Cabianca

(Vérone 1827- Rome 1902)

Vicenzo Cabianca arrived in Florence in 1853 who leaved in 1864 to Venice and Roma where he set up in 1868. In 1873 he joined Diego Martelli in Castiglioncello and accompanied Zandomeneghi to Venice the year after before to paint in Capri, Milano, Perugia, Verona. He stayed in Paris in 1880 and in London in 1883 where he got a great success.


Guglielmo Ciardi

(Venice 1842 - Venice 1917)

Guglielmo Ciardi was introduced to the Macchiaioli by  Zandomeneghi in 1863. He came into contact with the school of Resina, set up in Roma then travelled in several countries before returning, in 1894, to Venice where he taught at the Fine Arts Institute.


Giuseppe De Nittis

(Barletta 1846 - Saint-Germain-en-Laye 1884)

Giuseppe de Nittis studied at the Fine Arts of Naples and Resina school between 1863 and 1867.  He frequented the Florentin Café and travelled to Palermo, Barletta (his native town), Roma, Venice, Torino… In 1868 he set up in Paris where he invited his friends but the franco-prussian war incited him to return in Italy where he painted the Vesuve eruption in 1872… Two years later he participated at the first Impressionist Exposition, becoming totally French…


Giovanni Fattori

(Livorno 1825 - Florence 1908)

Giovanni Fattori studied in Fine Arts Academy of Florence since 1846 then he participated to the defense of Livorno with the Risorgimento before returning in 1850 in Florence, where he joined the Macchiaioli group. At this time he was specialized in painting austro-Italian war… In 1867 he was invited by Diego Martelli in Castiglioncello and was named teacher in the Fine Arts Institute of Florence two years later. As he was famous he exposed in Florence, Roma, Vienna, London and Paris and received many awards. An important part of his work were composed with engravings since 1868 and then, since 1882 with Maremmes Landscapes, toscan seaside.


Silvestro Lega

(Modigliana, Forli 1826 - Florence 1895)

Silvestro Lega attended lessons of Florence Academy since 1843 and, as ardent supporter of Italian independance, he participated to many fights in 1848. Then he frequented the florentin café Michangiolo and was often received by his friends in Pergentina, Bellariva and Gabbro but he suffered eyes problems and he didn’t paint anymore at the end of his life.


Giovanni Battista Segatini called Segantini

(Arco 1858 - Maloja 1899)

Segantini followed the teaching of Brera Academy in Milan between 1875 and 1879. The following year he contract with a gallery owner allowing him to get a rent in exchange of canvas; then he set up in Lombardia at Pusiano, Carella, Castagnola, Corneno and La Brianza… He developed a religious stroke in the rural life as Jean-François Millet in France. From 1886 to 1894, he set up in Savognino (Swiss Grisons) where he gave himself to divisionism and exposed in London. His dream was “to transmit all the earth beauty: shapes and sensations…” Eight of his canvas were exposed at the parisian universal exhibition in 1889 and one of them got a gold medal. His “total art” interest was manifested by the participation at two musical performances and he began to write about art in 1891, year during which he presented his own exposition in Milan. In 1893, he expressed his theories, more and more symbolists, in a Milanese magazine. During the summer of the following year, when a large retrospective of his work was presented, he set up on the Lake Sils in the upper Engadine Valley in Switzerland.

In 1895 the Secession of Munich, to which he belonged, organized an exhibit of his canvas; he participated also at numerous expositions in Vienna, Berlin, Brême, Stuttgart, Pittsburg and in Guatemala… Leipzig and Duisbourg museums bought some of his paintings. He died in the mountain of an appendicitis crisis when he was working in high altitude. In his memory, Saint-Moritz resort created a museum devoted to him in 1907 so as a lot of exhibitions in Switzerland: Basel in 1935, Saint- Moritz in 1949, Saint-Gall in 1956, Arco in 1958 and in the Beyeler foundation in Basel in 2011.


Telemaco Signorini

(Florence 1835 - Florence 1901)

Telemaco Signorini was one of the founders of the Macchiaioli movement of which he was the theorician and the historiographer with Adriano Cecioni (1836-1886) who was with him at the Florence Fine Arts Academy. He began to work outdoors near San Gimignano then in Florence, Venice in 1856 and two years later in La Spezia. As his friends, he fought with Garibaldi in the Risorgimento struggles, so many of his canvas show this war. In 1867, with Diego Martelli, he founded a magazine to support their ideas, influencing young artists who attended the café Michelangiolo in Florence: Boldini, Ciardi, Zandomeneghi… He travelled all over Europa: France, Switzerland, Austria, Great-Britain where he presented an own exposition in 1874 and where he returned every year since 1881. He visited Scotland later. He was also a prolific writer…


Federico Zandomeneghi

(Venice 1841- Paris 1917)

Federico Zandomeneghi entered the Fine Arts Academy of Venice in 1856 and struggled in the “expedition of Thousand” of Garibaldi, which contributed to liberate Sicilia, then he joined the Macchiaioli movement in Florence. From 1862 to 1866 he shared his time between Florence, Roma and Venice. In 1873 he set up at Castiglioncello in the Martelli’s house then decided to settle in Paris in 1874 and he participated to some impressionist expositions in 1879, 1880, 1881 and 1886. He died in Paris in 1917.

In 2000, the Cultural service of Rosignano-Marittimo where Castiglioncello is situated founded the Diego Martelli Cultural Center which shows expositions in the Pasquini Castel (


From October 2010 to January 2011, an exhibition were consacred to Giuseppe De Nittis at The Petit Palais (Paris) and from april to july 2013 an other one were devoted to the Macchiaioli in the Parisian Orangerie Museum.


Firenze, Galleria Arte Moderna
Milano, Pinacoteca de Brera
Milano, Collezione Jucker
Livorno, Museo Civico Giovanni Fattori
Barletta, Pinacoteca De Nittis
Genova, Palazzo della Provincia
Genova. Villa Grimaldi
Modigliani, Pinacoteca Silvestro Lega
Napoli, Museo di Capo di Monte
Roma, Galleria Nazionale Arte Moderna et Contemporanea
Piazencia, Galleria Arte Moderna
Ferrara, Museo Giovanni Boldini
Bari, Pinacoteca Provinciale
Venezia, Fundacione Musei Civic di Venezia
Viareggio, Instituto Matteuci


Other countries
Paris, Musée d’Orsay
Paris, Musée du Louvre
Paris, Musée Carnavalet
Lyon, Musée des Beaux-Arts
Saint-Moritz, Musée Giovanni Segantini
Bâle, Fondation Beyeler
Lisbonne, Fondation Calouste Gulbenkian
Dublin, City Gallery
Madrid, Museo National del Prado
Vienna, Belvédère Providence (Rhode Island). Museum of Art
Princeton, Art Museum
New-York, MOMA
Sao-Paulo, Musée d’Art


Italy : Florence, Livourne, Rome, Venise, Naples , Rimini, Capri...
Other countries
Paris, Londres, Vienne, Saint Moritz (Suisse), Munich