Traces of War

From small towns to large cities throughout Italy, traces of World War II can be found. As buildings are constructed and others restored, many of these fading traces are being completely wiped out.

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L’automa Poster


As promised in the earlier post, here is the final poster. A limited edition of 60 signed posters are on sale on Paolo’s website.

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A Typographic Treasure

In looking for a place to create and print a poster for Paolo’s upcoming show at the Palazzo Fortuny in Venice, we chanced upon a traditional typographer in the center of Arezzo. At 76 years old he’s been working in this same place for the past 60 years. The shop has been functioning since 1900 and much of the original equipment and type remain here. The poster is a work in progress…when complete, I will post the final.


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This Little Piggy Went…

Does it sound funny to say that people around here take their pigs pretty seriously?Italians are such dedicated carnivores that they have invented countless ways to make otherwise inedible parts of their livestock impossibly tasty.

We are now at the height of the pig season. I learned that one of the main reasons that the slaughtering of pigs happens during the winters months here is that it simply isn’t hygienic to slaughter a pig in the heat of the summer. While I was not certain how well I would stomach it, I figured that since I eat pork I may as well witness first hand where it comes from. And so on Saturday morning I woke early to see how a pig is turned into something palatable. While I set my alarm for the occassion, I was still the latecomer to the party and any true resemblance to the original animal was already a distant memory. So I’m not certain if I can truly say that I saw the slaughtering of a pig or the preparation of pork.

So when is the exact moment when a pig becomes pork? In Italian there is a single word for both the animal and the meat. Maiale. No difference. The Three Little Porks. This Little Porky Went to Market. The differentiation of the meat from the animal – more specifically the use of the word pork – derives from the French porc. In fact, the French are responsible for a number of words we use when referring to cooking or eating which were adopted after the Norman conquest of England in 1066 – veal for calf, beef for cow, and mutton for sheep. I’m not certain why chicken didn’t make the cut.

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The Writing on the Wall

During a quick look around Castilgion Fiorentino (near Arezzo) I was struck by some of the stunning typography and symbolism in this little Tuscan town. Here’s a small sample of some of the gorgeous graphics still to be found around Italy.

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May your holidays be filled with cheer.

Arezzo, Christmas 2010

Wishing everyone a very happy holiday. With love from Italy, Kim.

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Aqua Alta

Since I first learned of the phenomenon of Venice’s aqua alta, I’ve been eager to experience it first hand. You can imagine my excitement when, booking the hotel for our upcoming trip to Venice, the staff warned us to bring boots due to the rising tides.

Aqua alta, which literally translates to “high water”, is the term used for exceptionally hide tides that flood all or a portion of the streets of Venice. While aqua alta is an annoyance to Venetians, it is a surreal and enchanting occurrence for anyone seeing it for the first time.

I woke at 6am. The sky was still dark and the water, while already covering a good portion of the streets, was steadily rising. I took the stairs down from the third floor (elevators of course aren’t prudent under such conditions). The last step landed me in the lobby, ankle deep in water.  It resembled a scene from the movie Poltergeist. Chairs and tables were stacked one on top of the other like daring and skilled acrobats. While I surveyed the situation with incredulous eyes, the staff went out their business as if nothing was unusual. Breakfast was served by a waitress bearing knee high rubber boots.

During periods of aqua alta, an alarm is sounded to warn citizens and visitors alike. Not long ago the sirens employed for this purpose were the same ones used during World War II to warn citizens of air raids. With this system in place, Venice found many of its guests fleeing hotels in a panic, often clothed in only underwear or pajamas –  the memory of actual air raids and nights of carpet bombing all too recent to suppress. It was agreed that the sirens would be retired and replaced by the ringing of bells.

I giddily sloshed through the streets in my rubber boots, my over-bubbly “Buon Giorno-s!” wasted on the weary Venetian walking his dog, and the others making their way to work. By 9am the water was already making its retreat back to the canals leaving me with soggy feet and frankly a little saddened that it had passed so quickly. For the Venetians, however, the ebb and flow of the tides meant that aqua alta was not water under the bridge. For days to come they would wake to much of the same.

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