Milan color story #1

Ochres and terracottas.

These colors seduce my heart in the first days of Autumn. Perhaps because of the bittersweet interplay between their inherent warmth and the weakening power of the sun. (We cling to warmth wherever we can find it, don’t we?) Perhaps because they seem to spring from the ancient earth itself. Or perhaps because they are still, to my eternally American eyes, the colors of an ongoing adventure deeper and deeper into this older world that—for me—is perpetually new.

These colors spring from minerals, rocks, dirt. From oxides and imperfections in stone. When you see a yellow wall, you don’t just see a blanket of color. You see pigment, ground into paste. There is an obstinate depth to the colors that speaks of process, history. They are not the clean, crisp colors of modern times, but the dense, opaque ones of years past. They wear dirt well, sometimes becoming even more beautiful with the ravages of time, climate, and pollution.


Italians love these colors. They speak directly to their hearts, to their love of sun and the earth that is under their feet. Their earth. Their home. And I have grown to love them too, I who avoided yellow like the plague, who couldn’t see terracotta (literally “baked earth”) with any sort of understanding whatsoever. Now, they are good friends to me, these colors. Winter is coming. Milan’s predominant palette (the grays) will reign supreme. And these warm beauties, like broad brush strokes deftly left here and there by a cunning painter, will lift our spirits come heavier skies.


[You might enjoy comparing this to “The importance of blue.”]

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8 Responses to Milan color story #1

  1. anna says:

    Oh. My. God. I think the colors are the first thing I loved in Italy. So unlike you, Charlottie, I never needed to grow to love them, I loved them instantly. Of course I don’t see them every day like you. But they are the one thing I remember above all. Not the food (which I love), not the coffee (which I adore), not the gelatti (which I am crazy about), not the language (which is music to my ears) but the colors, yes. Those beautiful, earthen, natural, clay-like, mud-like, gorgeous, warm, warm, warm colors. They are Italy. They are its essence, its very definition. xo, A

  2. I loved the color when I saw it here, but it was as if I’d never related to these colors before. So it didn’t take me long to grow to love it; it’s just that I had no personal relationship with them before. And terracotta, I out-and-out did not like when I lived in the U.S. Isn’t that bizarre? Here, in this context, they make a profound sense to me, and I love them.

  3. I love some of the things you are posting about. However, your blog comes into my email as the sender being just “wordpress”. Any chance you can change that so it comes in as “The Daily Cure”.

    • Susan thanks so much for reading. I’m not, sadly, a very technological person. I’m not sure I can change the way the notice appears in your inbox, but I will try. Thanks for drawing this to my attention.

  4. Pingback: Milan color story #2: Gray Lady | The Daily Cure

  5. Pingback: Milan color story #3: Pink | The Daily Cure

  6. Minna says:

    I love the colours and the way you have build the story. Thank you for such a wonderful post, it is a pleasure to read!

  7. Pingback: Postcard #33: Typical | The Daily Cure

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