This is a singular and cherishable thing, for more than one reason. Here we have a large publishing house – Ambo | Anthos – which visibly takes much pleasure in creating a chic book in a format that still lets you drop it in your handbag – to read while travelling, in the hotel room or at the Airbnb. Via Roma takes an original approach in telling the story of Rome in fifty streets as a guide to the history and world heritage of the Italian capital. The book is chic in both page layout and typeface – especially with its crumbling screenprinted cloth cover, its orange endpapers, and its bright blue ribbon marker and headbands. Everything in this composition by Bureau Merkwaardig is in perfect harmony. Certainly there is some juggling with contrasts, but the result is at once contemporary and classical: all it takes is daring. Observe, too, the back of the cover, with the blurb sticker in its almost invisible blind-stamped space.
The fifty streets in Via Roma are laid palimpsestically on top of each other, so that we can as it were peel off their history layer by layer. At the same time much is left to the imagination by the minimalism of the ‘maps’. Nevertheless, they do give you something to go on; you have a sense of being a tracker in the jungle. ‘I have a clear picture of where I am in the city,’ said one panel member. Having been borrowed from maps of lower quality, the street plans at the back – a kind of functional add-on – slightly detract from the overall concept. On the other hand this is offset by the letterpress title of each chapter, with the chapter number in a deep orange. A book that commands respect and betrays solid craftsmanship.