The Italian Promenade

Museo del Camminare 2019

Discovering one of the most common
and fascinating, but least studied,
Italian social practices.
A travel from antiquity to the 21st century.


On certain days, at a certain hour, from Udine to Palermo, from Cagliari to Taranto—in fact, all over Italy—people get themselves ready, dress up for the occasion and make their way to pre-determined places to join others in performing an ancient and fascinating practice: the promenade.

It is a veritable rite—literally, a rite of passage—which is carried out collectively. Its meanings and purposes are very different to those of the introspective or contemplative solitary walk.

Instead, it regularly involves hundreds or thousands of participants spurred on by the desires and pleasures of open-air leisure; socialisation; looking at others and being looked at in turn; eroticism; exercising a status, economic class, and/or gender and age-class prerogatives.


This collective phenomenon has profoundly affected society in recent centuries in terms of relationships and aesthetic culture. With its theatrical and performative dimensions, it has provided the stage for political protest, demonstration of public dissent and rebellion.

It has played a key role in the definition and alteration of the urban socio-economic layout by influencing the distribution of leisure and commercial activities,

and has directly concurred with the redefinition of the urban space through the appropriation and reclamation of its public use.

The Museo del Camminare's project The Italian Promenade is the first extensive exploration and survey of one of the oldest and most extraordinary social phenomena, to date almost completely ignored by scholars and the media.

The Museo del Camminare promotes the recognition of the Italian promenade as a UNESCO intangible cultural heritage.


The contents drop-down menu on the up-right corner of the page allows you to navigate through the different sections.

All texts are from The Italian Promenade. A Cultural History by Gian Paolo Chiari, (Venice, Museo del Camminare, 2019), downloadable here free of charge, as PDF file.

© Museo del Camminare 2019, licensed under Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Vicenza [Contrà Muscheria], Bernard Rudofsky, Streets for People, 1969.