Colorful Caveats

“Half the fun of the travel is the aesthetic of lostness.” – Ray Bradbury

The world we live in is full of colors.  A sunset throws a beautiful array of colors across the sky.  An artist skillfully combines colors upon a canvas.  A gardeners tends his or her flowers that eventually blossom into their own unique rainbows.

One of the unique things that I’ve noticed in the past week (has it really only been a week?) about Italy is the seeming lack of color that Italians live in.  The standard color for a coat in Italy is black…or dark brown, or dark blue.  Pants are usually also black, or another dark color.  And shoes are, yes, you guessed it, also black or brown or something along the same lines.  A couple people in our group brought red coats with them, and they’re realizing more and more how much they stick out among Italians…kind of like Rudolph’s red nose among the other reindeer.

And yet, there’s a certain class that comes with the chosen Italian color palate that they present in their clothing.  There’s a certain classiness that emanates from the native Orvietani walking around the street.  It makes the tourists, like ourselves, stick out like sore thumbs.  It gives them a confidence, a strength.  In the United States, we often see a lack of color as somewhat disconcerting.  Clothing displays are made to pop out and explode with color.  But I guess it goes back to their own confidence in identity.  Black and darkness is a symbol of who they are.

There’s also a distinctly unique color palate present on the streets in the architecture.  The bright hues of the panels covering the sides of the houses are exchanged in Italy for the earthy tones of bricks and stone.  The roofs are covered, much like they are in older houses in Taiwan, with terra cotta colored tiles.  Grey cobblestone streets cut sharply through the buildings.  This of course excludes the frescoes and oil paintings that adorn the interiors of historic buildings.  But who would guess that such colorful contributions to history are housed within buildings of such a different color scheme?  Though some would see these colors on the outside as dull and drab, I think that in reality, they add much more character to the town.  They add to the ancient aura that floats through the streets, untarnished by florescent neon street signs.  They don’t need to hide behind a façade of color, trying to make their residents and visitors believe that they are worth something—they know that they are worth something, and are proud of it.  They know they have a history, and want to share it.

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