Typography. The shape of letters help define an age. The perfect alignment and spacing of the majiscule of antique inscriptions, the increasingly huddled form of the late antique, and the expressive curves of the longobard gothic… They give us sense of time and place. There is nothing like standing in front of an imperial inscription of the first century. One feels the entire weight of empire behind it. There is an instinctive cowering when one attempts to read it.
Then there are a range of quasi-contemporary (very contemporary if you are looking at the breadth of the historical record here) shop signs in an orthography that one can only described as felliniesque. Only here in Roma have I seen these fonts. There is a joyfulness about them that can often mask the drama going on behind the shop façade. I stop and smile. Is that a Nino Rotta soundtrack I hear playing in the background?