I have a thing about letters, type and font. Vintage, die-cast lead signs make my heart swell. It’s no wonder I have a huge crush on Florence’s central train station Stazione Santa Maria Novella. Santa Maria Novella is a cache of incredible type – from the standard lean Fascist lead font and neon exit sign to the gorgeous serif numbers that hide throughout the station. All you have to do is wait for your train and take a look around you.
All over the station are incredible font – die cut lead letters, hand painted numbers, and even neon formed letters. Someone elongated and a bit austere, the typography of Santa Maria Novella are peak Fascism and unforgettable. I can’t help but taking photos everytime I visit, and in my research I’ve discovered that I am not the only one in love with the letters – a few graphic designers have created downloadable fonts !
A brief history of Stazione Santa Maria Novella
Stazione Santa Maria Novella is considered a “Modernist classic full of geometry and light, and enhanced by stylish detail” but originally, the design was not met with any praise. Most traditionalists hated it while Futurists and Modernist love it for its rationalist lines and light. Legend has it that ruling dictator Benito Mussolini was charmed by the station as well, as he supposedly thought that its overall layout (when scene from above) was reminiscent of the fasces, symbols of his regime.
Inaugurated in 1935, Santa Maria Novella was designed by archi-gorup Gruppo Toscano, which included architects including leader Giovanni Michelucci, Nello Baroni, Pier Niccolò Berardi, Italo Gamberini, Sarre Guarnieri and Leonardo Lusanna. Unfortunately, today it is hard to get a good idea of the overall architecture of the design, but its modernist, futurist, and rationalist lines are still visible if you take a moment to look around the station.