It has been said that wars are a way of teaching geography. And maps are caught up in the strife.
Nova Rico, a company in Impruneta, Italy, that has made globes for 50 years, has learned to accommodate geographic disputes. “The problems of cartography are the same that exist in diplomatic relations,” said Stefano Strata, a co-director of Nova Rico, a company that has been making custom globes for 50 years in this small town near Florence better known for its terra cotta.
For mapmakers like Nova Rico, geographic disputes are commonplace. For a Turkish customer, Cyprus is shown split in two, a division that Greek Cypriots do not recognize. On one globe, Chile is given parts of Antarctica that on another globe go to Argentina. And in much of the Arab world, Israel is nonexistent.
The world of globes is quite small, and Nova Rico is one of the biggest and best-known companies in the business. It is also the only globe maker remaining in Italy.
When working on a commission, Mr. Strata and his business partner, Riccardo Donati, receive precise instructions, sometimes from government officials. In the 1980s, President Saddam Hussein of Iraq commissioned Nova Rico to draft a globe with all the Arab countries colored orange and the rest of the world yellow. Iraqi military advisers came to Impruneta to monitor production. “It was clearly a political globe,” Mr. Strata said.