Home Architectural Travel The Colors of Italy

The Colors of Italy

written by Penny Sadler

I adore the colors of Italy: the myriad shades of terra cotta and ochre (from pale pastel yellow to intense rich coral), the greens (from mint to olive). It’s as though the crumbling architecture is enhanced by the colors.

I’ve been back for a few weeks from a recent trip to Italy. While editing my photos, I noticed a recurring theme – the wonderful colors of the buildings. In fact, if I had to use one word to describe this trip, I’d say: colorful!

Colors of Italy, terra cotta. @PennySadler 2013

A colorful intersection in Pavia.


Ever wonder about those colors? Where they came from? And how is it that today, even the newer buildings are painted in the same or similar colors? The answer is pretty simple – mineral oxides and plant pigments. I am not suggesting that exterior paint is still made from mineral oxides, but in Italy, the tradition of painting exteriors in earth-based colors has remained.

Voghera, Italy Colors Of Voghera, Italy @PennySadler 2013

Voghera, Italy

One night a friend took me for a drive in the wine country, the Oltrepo Pavese, and we pulled over so I could photograph this electric coral house. Many modern homes and public buildings are painted in more vivid versions of the original mineral oxide-based colors. Even though it’s a bit surreal, I think it’s fantastic. Color makes me happy.

in the Oltrepo Pavese, Lombardia, Italia @PennySadler 2013


These photos were taken in some of the small cities I visited, and in the countryside, in Lombardia, a region in northwest Italy. Most buildings also have balconies filled with flower pots, drawing your eyes upward and adding to the kaleidoscope of colors.

Pavia, Italy @PennySadler 2013

Pavia, Italy


Maybe those colors were inspired by gelato?

gelato in Italy, @PennySadler 2013

The colors of gelato.


Pavia, Italia. Province of Lombardia, Italia @PennySadler 2013

Love that cantaloupe colored building on the left.


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Overnight New York (@HotelreviewsNYC) July 27, 2013 at 7:31 pm

I know where Pantone should look for their next Color of the Year.

Penny July 29, 2013 at 4:39 pm

I was thinking the same thing T2

Larissa Milne July 27, 2013 at 12:02 pm

I love those warm tones-it implies a sun-drenched summer day, even in the middle of winter! Throw in a pizza or pasta and I’m in heaven 🙂

Liz Borod Wright July 26, 2013 at 11:16 pm

I love how colorful Italy and the other European countries are. I wish the US could be as colorful!

Bethaney - Flashpacker Family July 25, 2013 at 7:40 pm

Italy will always do it for me. I love how all the colours are so warm.

Dana July 24, 2013 at 12:56 pm

I love it! I recently got back from a trip to New Orleans and the colors are very reminiscent, with an extra pop of Caribbean color too. I love the rich, dark red color of the house on the left in the second photo. All this color makes me want to go out and paint my house some crazy shade too! Why not?

Adam - Travels of Adam July 23, 2013 at 9:36 am

Enjoyed this! I wrote a post last year called “The Sounds of Italy” but I quite like the idea of capturing the colors as well. I think my favorite Italian color though is “gelato” 😉

Penny July 23, 2013 at 9:08 pm

The sounds of Italy, I’ll check that out. Gelato, yes! 🙂

Val Dawson (@ThisWayParadise) July 23, 2013 at 12:33 am

So gorgeous…just looking at these colors everyday would make me happy!!

Penny July 23, 2013 at 9:09 pm

Color helps!

Jenn Miller July 22, 2013 at 10:59 pm

I adore Italy… the colours… yes… they make me happy too. 🙂

mytanfeet July 22, 2013 at 9:18 pm

Beautiful! Just the colors alone makes you feel the history of Italy through the pictures. Not to mention that gelato looks pretty yummy!

Penny July 22, 2013 at 9:54 pm

Thanks Samantha, the colors are delicious!

Penny July 23, 2013 at 9:09 pm

Thank you!

Samantha July 22, 2013 at 9:17 pm

Beautiful! Even the colors of buildings makes you feel the culture of Italy through pictures. Not to mention that gelato looks pretty yummy too

wanderingeducators July 22, 2013 at 11:57 am

LOVE those colors!

PointsandTravel ✈ (@Pointsandtravel) July 21, 2013 at 8:49 pm

Just like you, I love the colors of Italy! Somehow they just sink into your soul and enrich the experience. Can’t wait to go back!

Angelo Di Giorgio July 19, 2013 at 2:00 pm

Very nice article! Yes , in Italy we have a lot of coloured buildings and it make us feeling a “warm” atmosphere not only inside but also when walking in the streets.

Paula Good July 19, 2013 at 1:24 am

Beautiful post. I love COLOR too! I always feel better after seeing vivid, saturated color.

Penny July 19, 2013 at 10:09 am

Hi Paula. Thanks for stopping by my blog and sharing.


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