Italian Cycling Journal just posted about the origins of the Bianchi celeste color. I'll add one more reason that I've heard, which is that the blue paint wasn't 'cut' with white to make it less militaristic, but that hard times during the war led to shortages and the resulting mixing and thinning of available paint. Remember, up until that point, Bianchi had been known for it's sky blue (which is actually what 'celeste' translates into).
In the comments to the ICJ post, Prolly linked over to his post of a Bianchi ad that I'm pretty sure he mashed up his track frame of choice into an ad from 1984. This got me thinking back to the one ad that caught my eye from 1983 and led me to my first Italian bike (yep, a Bianchi). Here it is... there was something so foreign and unique about this color and so simple about the ad that it just stuck. It's a pretty bold move and a smart marketing idea from Bianchi USA (I'm fairly certain the Italian arm didn't come up with this!).
Which of course leads me to another couple of ads from 1985 which made enough of an impression that I found myself in front of a bike shop in the Veneto snapping photos through the glass of a closed shop of this bike (from one of my first posts on this blog!).
Which finally takes me to this cheap imitation of the original ad! Sorry, Cino!