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Colorful buildings on Procida Island. You can also see boats in the water in the foreground. Sunny day with a few whispy white clouds.

Colorful Houses in Italy – Where to Find Italy’s ‘Rainbow’ Villages

Updated on November 19, 2023

If you’re on your way to Italy and are interested in seeing colorful places like La Boca in Buenos Aires, Guanajuato in Mexico, Bo Kaap in South Africa, or Copenhagen in Denmark – you’re in for a treat! 

Here in Italy, we’ve got plenty of small villages and neighborhoods in cities that pop with color.  Some are well-known (like Procida or the Cinque Terre Villages), while others you may not have heard of (like Dozza). 

I’ve been exploring Italy since 2003 as a traveler, guide, and resident – and here are my top picks for where to find the most colorful houses in Italy.

I’ve also included helpful details like:

  • A map of where these colorful Italian homes and buildings are
  • The best time to visit
  • How to get to them
  • If they’re well-known or more off-the-beaten-path
  • Nearby sites worth visiting
  • If they’re kid-friendly or not

Andiamo – Let’s go!

Where to Find Colorful Houses in Italy

Why Visit Some of Italy’s Colorful Villages and Cities?

Take a look at some of these colorful places in Italy. Not only are they beautiful to look at – they’re also:

Quick Look – Colorful Towns in Italy Worthy of a Visit

PLACEREGIONRECOMMENDED TRANSPORT
ManarolaLiguriaTrain
GhizzanoTuscanyCar
BuranoVenetoBoat
DozzaEmilia-RomagnaCar
PositanoCampaniaCar or Boat
BolzanoTrentino-Alto AdigeTrain or Car
BosaSardiniaCar
VipitenoTrentino-Alto AdigeTrain or Car
MalcesineVenetoCar
Giglio PortoTuscanyBoat
ProcidaCampaniaBoat
PievasciataTuscanyCar

Manarola

The colorful village of Manarola in the Cinque Terre, perched on the hillside above the sea.

This seaside village is one of the famous Cinque Terre, or ‘Five Lands’ on the Ligurian Coast.  The colorful buildings cling to the cliffs and surround the tiny harbor that’s home to more colors – on the fishing boats. 

For the best views of Manarola’s colorful homes and buildings, lace up your hiking shoes and head out on the Cinque Terre hiking trails.

If you make it to Manarola, you’ve can visit more colorful villages – the rest of the Cinque Terre: Riomaggiore, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso al Mare.

Region: Liguria

When to Visit: Late-spring to early-fall

How to Get There: Take the train from La Spezia or Genoa

Secret or Well-Known: Well-known

Nearby: Portofino (also colorful!), Genoa, Versilia (full of classic Tuscan beach towns)

Kid-Friendly: Not particularly.  There’s quite a bit of ups and downs and steps in the village and there’s not sandy beach for little ones.  There is a nice seaside playground.  In general, I find the Cinque Terre are best visited with older kids or teens who are happy to walk the trails between the villages and up and down steps in the villages. Or, with babies who are happy to travel in a baby carrier or baby backpack.

Ghizzano

Boy points at bicycle and walks past rainbow-colored homes in the small village of Ghizzano in Tuscany, Italy. Sunny day. Plants on street too.

This piccolo (small) village is set in the Tuscan countryside and if it didn’t have the street of colorful homes, you’d probably easily pass it by.  But, it’s worth a stop for the smile the rainbow colors will put on your face.  And, it pairs well with a visit to nearby Peccioli and its outdoor art (like the sculptures of the Giants!).

Region: Tuscany

When to Visit: Late-spring to early-fall

How to Get There: Drive your own car

Secret or Well-Known: Secret

Nearby: Peccioli (artsy village), San Miniato (foodie town), Pisa (I hear it has a famous tower), San Gimignano

Kid-Friendly: Yes.  It’s tiny and uncrowded, so kids can manage easily and can run around.  They can also look for art in the tiny village and walk down the street of colorful houses.  There are a couple of small places to eat if you need a meal or snack.  There’s also a fun playground right by the parking lot.

Burano

Row of brightly colored homes on island of Burano in Venice. Grassy area in front of homes and blue sky with whispy white clouds. Barren tree on right.
Colorful houses in Burano

Venice’s lace making island – Burano – is also the most colorful island in the Venetian lagoon.  Burano is often featured in lists of the world’s most colorful places and it’s truly a photographer’s dream.  While Burano is a popular spot, it may seem quiet after visiting busy Venice and its packed famous sites like Piazza San Marco, the Basilica of San Marco, and the Rialto Bridge. 

If you enjoy the island-hopping, after you’ve browsed the shops of Burano lace and eaten the island’s bussola and esse cookies, take the vaporetto from Burano island over to Murano to check out colorful glass products.

Region: Veneto

When to Visit: Year-round; we love visiting in the quiet winter

How to Get There: Take the vaporetto (water bus) from Venice

Secret or Well-Known: Well-known

Nearby: Venice’s major sites

Kid-Friendly: Not great for early walkers because there are no barriers between the island and the water.  Otherwise, Venice is a great place to visit with kids! Read my guide to Burano with Kids.

Dozza

Colorful murals at the entrance to the village of Dozza, Italy. One is blue with grass and clouds, with a working clock. To the right is a giant with large pointy ears. Sign for Piazza Zotti.

If you’ll be in Emilia-Romagna with your own car, a stop in Dozza is a must!  The tiny village is full of colorful and unique murals painted by artists from around the world.

Every two years (on odd-numbered years) in September, Dozza hosts a ‘painted wall festival’ – artists from around the world are invited to contribute to Dozza’s wall-mural collection. 

Region: Emilia-Romagna

When to Visit: Year-round; best in September on an odd-year for the painted wall festival

How to Get There: Drive

Secret or Well-Known: Secret

Nearby: Bologna, Ravenna, Brisighella (another picturesque village)

Kid-Friendly: Yes.  Dozza has a pedestrian center, kids love picking out their favorite murals, and you can see Fyrstan the Dragon guarding his egg and treasure in the castle! It’s easy to combine Dozza with a visit to Ravenna with kids or Bologna with kids.

Positano

View of colorful buildings of Positano, Italy, as seen from the beach. You can see rocky mountain behind the town.

Slap on some sunscreen, put on your big sunglasses and linen outfit, and soak up the glamour of Positano.  The buildings are a mix of colors – mostly pastels, and they look lovely any time of day, but especially in the early evening. 

My favorite viewpoints of Positano’s colorful buildings are from the beach or from the pedestrian path on Via Cristoforo Colombo.

Region: Campania

When to Visit: Late-spring through early-fall

How to Get There: Drive

Secret or Well-Known: Secret

Nearby: Amalfi, Sorrento, Capri, Naples

Kid-Friendly: Not particularly.  Positano is full of steps and there’s not much for little ones to do.  The stony beach is the most kid-friendly activity in town.

Bolzano

Colorful buildings in Bolzano, Italy

Bolzano, at the foot of the Dolomite Mountains isn’t full of bright colors, but there are plenty of streets with lovely pastel shades that will make you smile – and take out your camera.

You’ll also see lovely colors in the markets, like the famous mercato in Piazza delle Erbe, and you’ll catch all shades of vibrant green in the vineyards, apple groves, and forests in and around the city.

Grab a seat in a piazza for an aperitivo, enjoy a meal at one of Bolzano’s restaurants, and have an amazing time in one of my favorite Italian cities!

Region: Trentino-Alto Adige

When to Visit: Year-round – summer is full of festivals, winter is a Christmas-lover’s delight

How to Get There: It’s easy to arrive by train or car

Secret or Well-Known: Not a secret, but not super well-known

Nearby: Molveno (also colorful!), Alpe di Siusi (picturesque alpine plateau), Ortisei (mountain village w/excellent hikes), Merano (hot springs and cycling)

Kid-Friendly: Extremely.  Bolzano has some of our family’s favorite playgrounds, plus you can see the Ice Man and explore the shops and markets.  We love visiting Bolzano as a family.

Bosa

Colorful homes in the historic center of Bosa, Sardinia. There is a castle in the hills above.

The historic center of Bosa, on Sardinia’s eastern coast, is full of different-sized homes in all shades of the rainbow.  While you can see colorful buildings along the Temo River, for the best views of the colorful center, cross the river and head up the hill for a panoramic view that can’t be beat.

If you love the color turquoise, you’ll appreciate Bosa’s (and all of Sardinia’s) beaches!

Region: Sardinia

When to Visit: Year-round; Bosa has a popular Carnival festival

How to Get There: Drive your own car

Secret or Well-Known: Secret

Nearby: Spectacular beaches along the coast

Kid-Friendly: Yes.  It’s a beach town!

Vipiteno

Main shopping street in Vipiteno, Italy. The buildings are very colorful. At the end of the street is a large stone clock tower.

When I hear Vipiteno, I think of the delicious, creamy yogurt made in the town.  But, many people think of the colorful buildings in the village. 

While the Dolomites is full of postcard-perfect villages and towns, Vipiteno is one of the most beautiful.  Soak up the colorful views and the Austrian culture (it doesn’t feel like Italy here!) from a piazza, browse the shops, and be sure to take a photo on Via Città Nuova, the most famous colorful street in town.

Region: Trentino-Alto Adige

When to Visit: Year-round; lovely Christmas markets and festivities

How to Get There: Drive your own car

Secret or Well-Known: Secret

Nearby: Merano, Dolomites villages, Innsbruck (Austria)

Kid-Friendly: Yes.  Stroller-friendly, pedestrian streets, nearby family-friendly hikes.

Malcesine

Colorful houses on the shore of Lake Garda in Malcesine. You can see the castle tower rising above town. Water in foreground.

On the eastern shores of Lake Garda in northern Italy, Malcesine has epic views, a mountain backdrop, and colorful streets and piazzas.  You can see the colors of Malcesine on a stroll through town or from a boat on Lake Garda.  Or, take the cable car up to Monte Baldo and enjoy the views of Malcesine on the way up.

Region: Veneto

When to Visit: Summer

How to Get There: Drive your own car

Secret or Well-Known: Well-known

Nearby: Sirmione, Riva del Garda, Gardaland, Verona

Kid-Friendly: Yes.  Lake Garda in general is very kid-friendly – it’s one of our favorite places to visit in Italy with kids.  Malcesine has a small, pedestrian historic center and fun things for kids like a castle and a cable car.

Giglio Porto

View of colorful homes on the water in Giglio Porto on the island of Giglio in Italy. You can see the seat and boats and the hills behind town.

It’s not pronounced ‘jigalow’ – it’s more like ‘GEE-yee-oh’ (but that ‘gli’ in Italian can be tricky).  The port town of Giglio Island off the Tuscan Coast greets you on arrival with pastel-colored buildings and turquoise water. 

Region: Tuscany

When to Visit: Summer

How to Get There: Take a ferry

Secret or Well-Known: Secret

Nearby: Spectacular beaches along the coast

Kid-Friendly: Yes.  There are family-friendly beaches (but many are rocky), and it’s a relaxed small island.

Procida

Colorful houses on Procida, Italy.

Procida is the least famous of the islands in the Gulf of Naples – Capri and Ischia definitely steal the show.  But, piccolo (small) Prodica has been wow-ing Italians for years, and it gained some international recognition when it was named the Capital of Italian Culture for 2022.  Its colorful homes and shops greet you upon arrival at the port.

Region: Campania

When to Visit: Year-round; Bosa has a popular Carnival festival

How to Get There: Boat

Secret or Well-Known: Secret-ish

Nearby: Ischia, Capri, Naples, Amalfi Coast

Kid-Friendly:  Yes.  Procida has plenty of family-friendly beaches with shallow water.

Bonus – Pievasciata

Sculptures of red and bell peppers on a lawn in Tuscany, Italy.

While the buildings aren’t necessarily super colorful, you will find colors throughout the village of Pievasciata in the outdoor art.  Pievasciata proudly proclaims itself a village of contemporary art, and you’ll find sculptures and unique outdoor art placed creatively throughout the village (like this house with colorful bell pepper sculptures on the lawn). 

Region: Tuscany

When to Visit: Year-round

How to Get There: Drive your own car

Secret or Well-Known: Secret

Nearby: Chianti Sculpture Park, Siena, Chianti (wine country)

Kid-Friendly: Yes.  My boys love finding the art throughout town and exploring the trails and sculptures in the Chianti Sculpture Park next door (one of our favorite things to do in Tuscany with kids).

More Colorful Places in Italy

Itching to see more rainbow colored houses in Italy?  Check out some of these Italian villages (and an island):

  • Varenna (Lake Como)
  • Portofino (Italian Riviera)
  • Molveno (Dolomites)
  • Castelsardo (Sardinia)
  • Camogli (Italian Riviera)
  • Capri (Amalfi Coast area)

If you’re planning on visiting one or more of these colorful posti (places) in Italy, you may want to read:

Renting a Car in Italy
Driving in Italy
Taking the Train in Italy
200+ Essential Travel Tips for Italy
Visiting Italy in JanuaryFebruaryMarchAprilMayJuneJulyAugustSeptemberOctoberNovemberDecember

Enjoy visiting these Italian places full of color – buon viaggio!

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