A new exhibition marking the 10th anniversary of revered Italian singer-songwriter Lucio Dalla's death in 2012 has opened in his hometown of Bologna.

A first look at the new Lucio Dalla exhibition in Bologna
A first look at the new Lucio Dalla exhibition in Bologna © Kevin Raub

Lucio Dalla: Anche Se Il Tempo Passa ("Even Though the Time Goes By") is the first of its kind chronicling the life of Dalla, who enjoyed a prolific career spanning five decades across multiple genres (jazz, blues, opera, pop) and is considered one of the most innovative and versatile songwriters in Italian musical history. 

The exhibition runs through July 17 at the city's Museo Civico Archeologico, where it shares exhibition space with a permanent collection that counts Egyptian and Roman artifacts among its treasures as well as one of Italy's most impressive Etruscan exhibits. Through 2023, the

The start of the Lucio Dalla exhibit
The start of the Lucio Dalla exhibit © Kevin Raub

exhibition will hit the road with stints in Rome, Naples and Milan before heading further afield in Europe and perhaps Argentina, where Dalla also enjoyed a healthy popularity, in 2024.

Lucio Dalla: Anche Se Il Tempo Passa was co-curated by Italian entrepreneur and cultural ambassador Alessandro Nicosia, famed for previous domestic and international retrospectives on Michelangelo, Frederico Fellini, Luciano Pavarotti and Sophia Loren, among others. The 1000 sq m exhibition chronicles Dalla's fascinating life, eccentric personality and extensive career across 10 sections and hundreds of pieces, including previously unseen personal documents, photos, videos, stage clothes and other insights into the singer's impermeable legacy. 

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Photos from Lucio Dalla's career
Photos from Lucio Dalla's career © Kevin Raub

"Dalla can rightfully be considered one of the most interesting popular expressions of Italian culture," says Nicosia. "For non-Italians, the exhibition is an opportunity to know our country not only through its history and its contemporaneity but also through the soul of a deeply lucid artist who is still absolutely ahead of his time."

Lucio Dalla's motorcycle, on display at the Lucio Dalla exhibit
Lucio Dalla's motorcycle, on display at the Lucio Dalla exhibit © Kevin Raub

Highlights of the exhibit include many never-seen-before artifacts 

Highlights of the life-spanning exhibition include Dalla's 1969 Ducati Scrambler, a life-sized wooden model of Pinocchio, a particularly extensive collection of knitted hats and countless lyric sheets and personal letters, photos, artwork and vintage instruments. Visitors take a journey alongside the famed singer, from birth and childhood to sections devoted to his incredibly diverse talents (music, cinema, theater, television, etc).

"The museum itinerary allows a visual and audio immersion in Dalla's rich artistic production, but also a reading of the transformations that have crossed Italy, through the intelligent, ironic and sensitive gaze of a unique personality," adds Nicosia.

A look inside the renowned Casa di Lucio Dalla
A look inside the renowned Casa di Lucio Dalla © Stella Caracchi / Fondazione Lucio Dalla

The exhibition makes for a perfect accompaniment to the singer's mesmerizing home museum in Bologna, Casa di Lucio Dalla, which is a frozen-in-time glimpse into the wild mind of one of Italy's most revered musical geniuses.

Andrea Faccani, Dalla's cousin and the president of Fondazione Lucio Dalla (which co-curated the exhibit along with Nicosia) fondly remembers Dalla's idiosyncrasies. "Lucio hated Mondays," recalls Faccani. "His antidote to the bad mood that accompanied the beginning of the week was the ritual moving of objects, furnishings and, above all, artworks - paintings in particular. So his house was always changing, never the same, and the one that you can visit today, and where you can still feel the strong presence of Lucio, is the version that has 'crystallized' in his last Monday of big moves."

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A selection of Lucio Dalla's hats at the Lucio Dalla exhibition, Bologna, Italy
A selection of Lucio Dalla's hats and personal belongings that marked his style © Kevin Raub

Between 1966 and his sudden death from a heart attack in 2012, Dalla released 23 studio albums and eight live albums, among numerous collaborations and collections. While a household name in Italy, Dalla is lesser-known outside his home country, though his most famous song, 1986's "Caruso" (written for famous tenor Enrico Caruso) has been covered by Luciano Pavarotti, Andrea Bocelli, Josh Groban, Julia Iglesias, Céline Dion and Michael Bolton, among others, and is considered one of the most famous songs ever written in Italian. Dalla also acted in 17 feature films and was the musical director of 17 more.

A wall of photos at the Lucia Dalla exhibit
A wall of photos at the Lucia Dalla exhibit © Kevin Raub

"Dalla was an eclectic artist and multifaceted talent, a genius who expressed his talent in many forms," says Nicosia. "He has marked in a unique and innovative way the history of Italian music; he reinvented jazz, pop and opera as he liked, mixing them with absolute freedom."

Lonely Planet's new Experience Italy guidebook, out this month, takes a deeper dive into the life and mind of Lucio Dalla.

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Eat Italy: learn about Italian food culture with Lonely Planet's new book
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Safety recommendations and restrictions during a pandemic can change rapidly. Lonely Planet recommends that travelers always check with local authorities for up-to-date guidance before traveling during Covid-19.

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