Pisa Type

Kara Zavaglio

The University of New Haven organized a trip to Pisa. A guided tour around the Piazza del Miracoli was amongst what was included during the day. We were taken around the Duomo, Baptistery, Bell Tower (Leaning Tower of Pisa), and Campo Santo. The Duomo, otherwise known as the cathedral, was the second stop around the Piazza del Miracoli during the tour. The cathedral is about one hundred meters long and fifty-four meters tall. At the front of the building, there were three massive bronze doors that caught my eye. There was incredible detail including carved images and type to go with the images.

The construction of the cathedral in Pisa started in 1093. The main architect to work on the cathedral was Buscheto. The architecture of the cathedral showed the early stages of Romanesque style of this time. In the twelfth century, this style was further developed into a more Gothic style. This was mainly characterized by pointed arches, which we now see all over Italy. An example is Brunelleschi’s Dome located in Florence, Italy. Romanesque architecture combines different features of Roman and Byzantine architecture. It is known for thick walls, arches, large towers, mosaics, and massive quality.

The outside walls are constructed out of grey marble and white stone, accented with colored marble. Rainaldo constructed the façade. Above the three doors are four rows of open galleries with statues on top. The current main doors were casted by students of Giambologna after a fire in 1595 destroyed the original doors. The center door is larger than the two on either side of it. Each door has engraved images on them. They are in separate panels, which represent different biblical stories. These panels have type included in them around the framing of the image.

There is still one original door left. It is currently used as the main door on the south end of the cathedral. The south end of the cathedral is located by the Bell Tower. It is named the Door of San Ranieri.  It was casted by Bonnano Pisano in 1180 during the construction of the Bell Tower.

I photographed the front center door of the cathedral. The engraved images caught my eye, when I walked towards the door I noticed type in the frame of the boxed in image. The type is in all capital letters. It is easy to decipher what letters they are due to the simplicity of the typeface. The photographed image I took says “IMBRES” and “EFFVGIO”. It is Latin, I only found an english translation for one word, Imbres means ‘showers’. I could not find the english translation for effvgio. The typeface is a serif. The serifs are small in the typeface though. There is a good amount of negative space within the letters; therefore the letters have a larger counter form. The typeface is a simple typeface resembling Helvetica or Arial, but still including serifs. Times New Roman and this specific typeface resemble each other as well, but the typeface featured on the door of the cathedral has a smaller serif.



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