The street signs in Italy are amazing. Unlike the Helvetica-plagued street signs of the US, Italian street signs are full of history, character, and life. Most signs are hand-painted rather than printed from a faceless computer and printer. Each street sign in Venice is hand-stenciled; more often than not, the wear and tear is visible, making me wonder how old some of them are and who painted them. Because most of the signs in Italy are hand-lettered, the designs and typefaces seems to be so much more considered and cherished. It seems that everything I have learned in my History of Graphic Design and Typography classes in school is coming to life here in Italy. I can point out specific typefaces and tell you their classification and which period they are from. I feel like a certified Type-nerd and I love it.
Yesterday I visited the most incredible typography museum, called Tipoteca Italiana, in Cornuda, Italy. They have one of the most extensive collections of wooden typefaces that have not yet been converted digitally, and let me just say, they are beautiful. The Tipoteca Foundation has a museum that left me completely geeking out as well as numerous fully functioning machines. I was lucky enough to make a small edition of letterpress prints there with the wonderful teacher, Daniele. Daniele does not speak any English, but with my slowly improving Italian, we were able to make it work.
Here are some images of a few of my favorite signs from Venice, Vicenza, and Padova.