Is there a more famous colour in the cycling world than Bianchi’s celeste? The name itself comes from celestial, or heavenly, often thought to be a reference to the blue skies over Milan, a colour mixed in some combination of passion and reverence. The original celeste was a slightly more grey shade than the ‘modern’ greenish hued colour, and some legends suspect this was a slightly less passionate result of having surplus military paints in the post-war period, mixing pale blue and grey resulting in a truly unique colour all of Bianchi’s own, and one that was bound to stand out at the time.
Join the club! Bianchi knew the pull of the colour and its place in their heritage, as this mid 80s ‘celeste club’ T shirt attests (image courtsey of bulgier.net)
Although myths abound, there is one that seems to be oft-repeated and is perhaps the most romantic of them all; that the colour is an homage to the colour of Queen Margherita’s eyes. In 1895 Eduardo Bianchi was reportedly asked to build the Queen a bike and teach her how to ride it, and upon meeting her was so struck by her eyes that he decided that was the colour for him. Further bolstered by the appearance of the royal coat of arms in Bianchi’s logo, this is only slightly cast into doubt by the historical fact the Queen’s eyes were not blue. Still, whatever the true origin story it’s a great colour, and one that adorns many a well-loved race bike.
Still at it! The Bianchi L'Eroica edition circa 2016.
There's paint somewhere under there! An original 1950s Bianchi (image (and main photo) courtesy of cyclist.co.uk)
The current celeste isn’t for everyone, and it seems that even Bianchi had second thoughts as the advert below from 1983 shows. Love it or hate it? What's your vote? No ballot necessary! Just leave us a comment below...
A 1983 US advert from Bianchi giving readers the opportunity to vote for, or against keeping the legendary celeste (image courtesy of Cicli Masini)
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