The history of that minty green is beautiful and complicated. By Matt Phillips
The origins of the 129-year-old Italian company’s marquee colour are a bit of a mystery. “We have no real answer,” says David Reed, Bianchi USA’s vice president of marketing. “Years have gone by and the stories get more glorified and less truthful.” Complicating the matter: Though it has always been called celeste (which translates roughly to “sky blue”), the actual shade has varied over the years from a bluish tint to its current minty green.
The facts may be elusive, but the tales are wonderful. The most well-known include the notion that company founder Edoardo Bianchi made a bike at the request of the Italian queen and painted it to match her eyes. Another suggests that the colour comes from toned-down surplus military paint after World War I, though references to celeste in Bianchi ads predate the war. Still another says it’s the colour of the sky over Milan.
It doesn’t matter that we may never know the real story. Celeste has come to symbolise a romanticised combination of Italian craftsmanship and cycling lore—and that’s the story we hope will forever endure.