an Italian island
My thinking, based on no historical reading whatsoever, went like this: Mediterranean and Caribbean towns are geographically isolated from the mainland and therefore do not have to behave "respectably". Furthermore they tend to be hot, relaxed places where people swim semi-naked, eat under palm trees and sway to tropical music.
Of course heat by itself is not enough of a defining factor. After all, I cannot imagine coloured houses, naked swimming or Caribbean music in very hot cities like Baghdad.
But some cool temperate or cold places were an absolute surprise eg St John Newfoundland in Canada, Honnisvag in Norway, Tobermory in Scotland, Llandeilo in Wales, Cork in Ireland, Bristol in England or St Peter Port in Guernsey.
Thus we have a unpredictable assortment of colourfully painted towns that radically differ from each other on climate, religion and life style. In each island or town, I would like to know how the decision to paint the houses came about. Was there a long history of colourful homes in those particular places or did the decision come about suddenly? Did the directors of tourism services suggest that lively, colourful towns would attract outside visitors more, especially in colder or duller climates? Does the town council in these places have the right to approve the colours selected by individual householders?
St John's Newfoundland,
Tobermory on Mull,
Bo Kaap, Cape Town,
Travelblog Jodhpur reported that most buildings in Jodhpur are painted medium blue which makes this Indian city a stunning sight. The blue painting was originally only used by the Brahmin caste but soon others joined in; the colour was said to deflect the heat and keep mosquitoes away.
Curacao, former Netherlands Antilles
Interestingly, I could only find one individual who was responsible for changing the colour preferences of an entire town. Baron Rodolphe d'Erlanger’s own palace at Sidi Bou Said in northern Tunisia was completed straight after WW1. Not only did he love bright blue and white for his own architecture – he also asked the rest of the town to paint their homes similarly.