Sali e Tabacchi Journal: the unknown creative side to contemporary Italy

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Sali e Tabacchi Journal is an independent magazine that explores the unknown creative side of Italy. The project began in 2018 and “issue zero” was released in the summer of 2019. The magazine is elegant and contemporary, and each issue examines a different theme through the words and images of Italian entrepreneurs and creatives who mainly work abroad.

Digital covers of RIV N°00. Images by Luca Anzalone, Paolo Zerbini and Paolo Di Lucente

The magazine is the brainchild of Leonardo Pellegrino and Elisa Carassai, two creatives who met in London in 2015 while studying at Central Saint Martins and the London College of Fashion respectively. Leonardo is an independent graphic designer and art director; after studying in London and working for various agencies in the city for a few years, he returned to his native Perugia, but plans to travel abroad again once the pandemic allows. Elisa writes about fashion, design and culture; after spending a number of years in London, she went back to her native Milan, where she works with fashion and lifestyle newspapers and magazines.

Elisa and Leonardo at the launch of the second volume of their magazine

Sali e Tabacchi Journal takes its name from the iconic signs displayed outside tobacconists in Italy. The magazine explores the relationship between the creative arts and the peninsula’s unknown rituals and traditions, describing Italy with objectivity and challenging stereotypes.

Images by Luca Anzalone

The first volume, “RIV N°00” (a nod to the iconography of tobacconists’ signs), examines the theme of familiar sensations: it’s a reflection on origins, family, home town, déjà vu and nostalgic moments of happiness.

Image by Paolo di Lucente

Elisa has interviewed a slew of interesting characters for the magazine, including a hairdresser with golden hands, a fashion alchemist and an Italian pop star from the 60s and 70s.

For the publication’s creative direction, Leonardo was inspired by Luigi Ghirri, the Italian photographer who has always documented Italy thoughtfully and sincerely. The layout is dominated by images from contributors who explore stories and subjects related to that issue’s macro theme.

Image by Alessandro Furchino Capria

The typography accompanies the content without overwhelming it, and is 100% Italian: Magister, a serifed typeface designed by Aldo Novarese for the Nebiolo type foundry, is paired with Venezia, a sans serif font recently created by an Italian design agency.

Images by Paolo Zerbini

In the summer of 2020, despite the complications caused by Covid-19, the second issue of Sali e Tabacchi Journal, RIV N°01, was published. It explores the theme of spirituality through stories of witches, votive bread, unusual Virgin Marys and secret places.

Image from Archivio Franco Pinna.
Image by Bea De Giacomo

Using the same format as the previous issue, RIV N°01 has contributions from writers, photographers, journalists, stylists, designers and artists. More sophisticated and intellectual than the last, this edition embarks on a exploration of an Italy free from stereotypes, but unknown to most (natives included).

Image from Archivio Franco Pinna
Image by Paolo Zerbini

The layout has been refined by its growing creative team to place renewed emphasis on the images, the undisputed stars of the publication. There’s also a typographical change: Venezia has been replaced by Rectabacchi, a typeface specially created for Sali e Tabacchi and based on the famous Recta font designed by Aldo Novarese in 1968.

Image by Bea De Giacomo

Print production has changed too, with a larger print run and more pages. The paper used is Fedrigoni uncoated and the magazine is printed by Alcione, the Trento-based offset printworks that’s part of the Pixartprinting Group.

Image by Mattia Balsamini

The third volume of Sali e Tabacchi Journal is due to come out at the end of summer 2021. The theme has yet to be revealed, but it will undoubtedly present a sympathetic portrait of Italy by young up-and-coming creatives. RIV N°01 can be purchased online from its official distributor, Edicola 518.

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