What to do in Rome?

Small Caps's picture

Hi, I'm going to Rome in May. Are there any must-sees in terms of design, typography et. al.?
I'm going with some of my colleagues, and since we are all teaching graphic design, we would be happy to visit a few educational institutions.

riccard0's picture

Are there [in Rome] any must-sees in terms of […] typography […]?

Apart from the Trajan column? ;-)

oribendor's picture

I went to see Trajan's Column, on whose inscription the typeface is based.

Si_Daniels's picture

Some ideas here... http://www.letterspace.com/LETTERING_TOURS/tour_scrapbook.htm
...alternately find an ex-Reading grad willing to reveal some of the choicest locations, for the cost of a pint or three.

Tomi from Suomi's picture

On Trajan column, the text is some four meters underground, so go see the Colosseum, and walk back south under Titus Arch. A good sample of what Trajan is based on. And Forum Romanum after that is worth a visit. Trajan column is at the end of that walk, not part of FR, but on your right side after the ancient part.

John Hudson's picture

Eat buffalo mozzarella and fiori di zucca.

For lettering, I like the portico of Santa Maria in Trastevere and the entry passage to Sant'Agnese Fuori le Mura (Saint Agnes Outside the Walls), both of which have really funky early Christian inscriptions.

oribendor's picture

On Trajan column, the text is some four meters underground

Are you saying you can't see it at all? But I was there just last summer, I don't recall not seeing it...

Ricardo Cordoba's picture

Do as the Romans do!

Sorry, I just had to say that. In fact, I can't believe no one else has. :-)

ncaleffi's picture

First of all, when in Rome I wouldn't miss a visit to churches - a great treasure of some of the best art and architecture masterpieces ever. And if you have the time, a visit to the Vatican museums would probably be the best thing you can do there, apart from eating and enjoying the climate (May is great).

Typographically speaking, the city offers a plenty of interesting stuff - the lettering on the buildings are every typophile's dream; just walking around lifting your head up will show several wonderful engraved inscriptions [a personal experience: once in Rome, walking in a street, I stumbled on a writing on a wall - a pre-Latin alphabet inscription, just standing there without any protection]. James Mosley, a gentle Englishman with a long time experience in Italy, has thoroughly documented Rome's public lettering heritage; everyone interested in typography should read his writings - "Trajan revived", in particular, for Rome references.

Finally, there's a very interesting service named "Typotour", a walking tour in different Italian cities discovering typographical stuff. Though I never took part in it, I can give you some references if you're interested. Don't know about educational institutions.

Andreas Stötzner's picture

You may also want to visit some of the catacombs, for their inscriptions of another kind.

John Hudson's picture

If going to catacombs, take a sweater. It's very cold underground.

Oh, and if visiting churches, don't wear shorts.

Reed Reibstein's picture

Armando Petrucci's Public Lettering could act as a guide to Roman inscriptions if that's what you're interested in (albeit a detailed and scholarly one).

hrant's picture

Make sure to check out the magnificently horrid
monumental lettering done under Mussolini.

Oh, and never ask for directions.


ebensorkin's picture

National Museum of Rome, Baths of Diocletian, which contains the Epigraphical Department.

And the Vatican Library may.... reopen by September 2010.

You may also want to read this


There images lack location information - bad I know... but here they are anyway.


eliason's picture

Oh, and if visiting churches, don't wear shorts.

Or bared shoulders.

Froy's picture

I suggest you look at this website:


"Roma C'e" it means, "Rome is here" or is there (it doesn't translate perfectly) but when I used to live in Rome I would look this site up, and there is also a monthly printed guide, with locations of museums and special art galleries and showings or events. Sometimes you might also find special events that deal more with the design world at special galleries around town. I suggest you buy this "al edicola" that means the newspaper stand and it will tell you everything that will be going on in that month such as special festivals, art galleries, sometimes design events, new and good restaurants and so on.

I also remember a workshop or some sort of school on "rilievografia" or letterpress but I can't remember the site. I'll post it here if I can find it. If not then I'm sorry.


Small Caps's picture

Thanks so much for your responses!

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