Chia was born on 20 April 1946. He studied at the Istituto d’Arte in Florence and then enrolled at the Accademia delle Belle Arti, taking his diploma in 1969.
He visited India, Turkey and much of Europe before settling down in Rome in 1970. During the Seventies his work shifted increasingly from conceptual art towards a rediscovery of pictorial language, attracting increasing attention from Italian and European critics.
From September 1982 to August 1981, he moved to Monchengladbach in Germany where, having won a scholarship, he spent a year working before moving on to New York. Here he stayed for more than two decades, though frequently travelling between New York and Ronciglione and, later, Montalcino.
He was part of the Transavanguardia group and exhibited with them in some of the world’s most important museums and galleries, even though as early as 1984 he declared in an interview that for him the term Transavanguardia meant nothing.
He exhibited at the biennales in Paris and Sao Paulo, and a number of times at the Venice Biennale. He has taken part in group exhibitions in some of the world’s leading museums.
He has put on important solo exhibitions in many of the greatest international museums, including the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam (1983), the Metropolitan Museum in New York (1984), museums in Berlin (1984, 1992), and the Musée d’Art Moderne in Paris (1984), museums in Düsseldorf (1984), Antwerp (1989), Mexico City (1989), Palazzo Medici Riccardi in Florence (1991), museums in Karlsruhe (1992), Palm Springs (1993), Villa Medici in Rome (1995); Palazzo Reale in Milan (1997), at MOMA in Boca Raton, Florida (1997), the Galleria Civica in Siena (1997); the Galleria Civica in Trento (2000) and the Museo d’Arte in Ravenna (2000).
An anthological exhibition of his works was recently (2002) put on at the Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Florence.
He currently lives and works in New York and Rome, as well as in Montalcino where, with his Castello Romitorio winery, he works on the production of fine wines including the celebrated Brunello.