Courtesy Louise Fili Ltd.

Name: Montecatini
Designer: Louise Fili
Foundry: Louise Fili Ltd
Release Date: May 2017

Back Story: Fili is the undisputed master of the universe when it comes to drop-dead gorgeous handlettered logos and identity systems, book jackets, and posters. Her newest digital typeface Montecatini allows the rest of us to bring a little of her refined sensibility to design projects large and small. Montecatini takes its cues from the distinctive letterforms of Italian Stile Liberty travel posters from the early 1900s.

Why’s it called Montecatini? “Montecatini Terme, the majestic spa in northern Tuscany, has drawn visitors in search of the healing powers of its mineral waters for over a century, and is perhaps best known for its cameo appearance in Fellini’s 8-1/2,” Fili says. “On my first visit there in the early 1980s I came across a poster with wonderful idiosyncratic letterforms, which has been a continued source of inspiration ever since.”

What are its distinguishing characteristics? Montecatini has a graphic language all its own, featuring a delightfully surprising variety of letterforms. “When I drew out its letters, all my references came from handlettered posters, but each one was different. There was nothing that I could take direct cues from…I was sort of on my own,” Fili says. Montecatini’s tall, elegant condensed characters like the T, I, and H are mixed with very wide rounded characters such as the O and C, some of whose alternates feature a graceful curled finial also found on the numerals and the S alternates. The M is high-waisted and a wee bit uptight, while the N sports a languid curving center stroke.

Montecatini features over 200 distinctive ligatures typical of the Art Nouveau era. “For one of the banners, we typeset the names of Italian cities,” says Fili. “We went through a whole map of Italy trying to find a city for each ligature in the font—and found most of them!”

What should I use it for? Everything looks better in Montecatini; from book jackets to monograms to packaging and logos—and the wide selection of ligatures makes copyfitting (and experimentation) a delight.

What other typefaces do you like to pair it with? Firme, from DSType, is a clean sans serif that has some subtle similarities in the shape of its letterforms. Founders Grotesk Text from Klim Type Foundry is another good choice; with some tiny curls thrown in here and there its slightly ornamental quality matches well with Montecatini.