I helped chaperone a group of high school students on a trip to Italy and Greece over Spring Break. While we were there, I made it a personal mission to document any type or lettering that stood out to me. I saw everything from letters carved in stone nearly 2000 years ago to hashtags. I was hastily taking pictures of signs and posters all over the place while trying to watch 15 high schoolers in crowded unfamiliar streets, and sometimes taking pictures out the bus window.
There were storefront signs and editorial/ advertising documents that used some interesting contemporary faces.
There were signs that used nice loose compositions or interesting monograph treatments.
Some of these stone chiseled letters are thousands of years old. These were seen at various sites including Apollo's Temple at Delphi, The Vatican in Rome, Pompeii, the Acropolis in Athens, and throughout the cities.
The more decorative letters are from frescoes in the Cathedral of Orvieto. Orvieto was built by the Etruscans, a pre-Roman civilization. The cathedral was built in the 13th century. The letters on tiles are from a park on the island of Capri.
There was no shortage of hand painted signs. These were a few of my favorites. Most of these are from the mountain town of Delphi.
There's no real uniting characteristic to these, but some of it is street art, and some of it is sort of in the same vein.
All Greek to me, am I right? I had a good time deciphering Greek words that are the same letter-for-letter in English pronunciation, like Acropolis or Athens. A point of pride for me was when I was able to read the word "θέατρο" (theater) without the sign having both words. But then there's a word like EXIT that isn't pronounced the same in Greek, so there's no way I could decipher it. And then a situation of the red sign where they've chosen to phonetically write the word in Latin characters instead of Greek. It simply translates to "RENT".
I did catch a bit of poster design.
As an American, I'm not accustomed to seeing things written in multiple languages like much of the rest of the world. I thought it was interesting to see the way this was handled, particularly when it came to Greek characters paired with Latin characters.
Wayfinding systems. The airport in Amsterdam had a very attractive and easy to use way finding system. They use a robust set of icons along with their text, and a distinctive, legible color palette. I found it interesting that English is more prominent on their signs. It says something about their research into the majority of visitors to their airport.
As a bonus, I wish I had started documenting these signs from the beginning. The font used in "Bar la Siesta" and the list of items on the pizzeria is called Balloon Pro Bold, and I must have seen 20 places that used it on their sign. Somewhere in Italy, there's a wealthy desktop sign maker. I'll add pictures to this section when I go back!