Some say that it was a town in Portugal that started this surrealistic trend in public spaces when an artist decided to hang umbrellas over a street in the town of Águeda. But an image search on Google proves that this idea has passed from artist to artist since at least the early 2000s... and I would suggest that the idea comes from other artists' fascination with the interesting, romantic and moody shape of the common umbrella. Take Magritte, for instance and his Hegel's Holida, Gustave Caillebotte'sParis on a Rainy Day or Giuseppe Maiorana's Man and the Sea (below)...
Gustave Caillebotte, 1877
And even street artists like Bansky love the iconic image of the umbrella...
Luckily, for Voyagers to Italy, this trend is spreading to Italian cities and for more than just aesthetic reasons: creating shade on busy city streets in shopping districts helps block the heat of the summer's sun, drawing more shoppers and tourists to some of the more desirable streets...
Bagni di Lucca, Northern Tuscany
Belluno, North of Venice
Biella, in the Piedmont
Treviglio, Bergamo - Lombardy
Via Mazzini, Ferrara - Emilia-Romagna
Even I have succumbed to the romantic, mysterious shapes of umbrellas from time to time... Here is my own creation, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs...