The city has a well-built and substantial appearance, its chief attraction lying in the numerous churches, which belong in the main to a well-marked basilican type, and present almost too richly decorated exteriors, fine apsidal ends and quadrangular campaniles, in some cases with battlemented summits, and windows increasing in number as they ascend.
The exteriors of the north Italian Gothic churches are characterized by the flatness of the roof; the treatment of the west facade as a mere screen wall, masking the true lines of the aisle roofs; the great circular window in the west front for lighting the nave; the absence of pinnacles owing to the unimportance of the buttresses; the west-end porches with columns resting on lions or other animals.
Unglazed ceramic or stoneware dishes can easily trap small particles of food along their rough exteriors, thereby encouraging the breeding of harmful bacteria.
Oil based paints are more commonly used for exteriors or woodwork and trim.
The industrial revolution also had the unintended effect of coating the exteriors of many homes in a thick layer of dirt, so Victorian interiors became more ornate to counteract the dingy exteriors of many homes.