When Peanut started public preschool last September, Andrea went out to buy his first grembiule with my instructions to get one in any colour but blue or pink. He was unsuccessful.
While school kids in Italy don't tend to wear uniforms, per se, they do wear smocks until about grade five. The colour is usually at the discretion of the teacher, sometimes the school, and the choice is very limited. Not necessarily pink/blue but often clearly divided between genders.
I wasn't prepared to accept it was impossible to find a neutral-coloured smock for Peanut, though. In fact, a quick search online soon produced Divise&Divise, which offers grembiuli da bambino in yellow, red, black and aqua in addition to the classic pink, blue and white. I got him a red one, and I just love it.
Major brownie points for Peanut's teachers being fine with the neutral colour, even though the rest of his class is all in pink and blue. Elsewhere I have seen a lot of school girls in blue, which seems to be the most popular smock colour in Italy in general. I'm not so sure Peanut's teachers would have been OK with him wearing a pink one. But you know, I'm picking my battles and all that.
Googling grembiule scuola colori led me to this very cool piece in the Corriere della Sera newspaper from April 2012 about a school in Castelfiorentino, Tuscany that actually made a feminist point of having all the kids wear blue. The day they make them all wear pink is the day we know Italy has finally turned a corner on this ridiculousness. Of course, it's not like the rest of the world is there yet either. But Italians still seem a lot more afraid than other Westerners of playing even a teensy bit with gender norms. SIGH.