Palatino is the work of designer Hermann Zapf, who is a calligrapher by training. Many of his fonts reflect this influence. But the Palatino system font is a harsh representation of Zapf’s original design. Palatino Nova is Zapf’s own reworking of Palatino that restores its original fluid subtlety.
Despite the name, Iowan Old Style is also based on the Italian Renaissance typography that inspired Palatino, but it’s a looser interpretation of that model. The lovely Verdigris also draws on these influences.
I’ve always liked Palatino a lot. But the decades of abuse and misuse have dimmed the novelty it once had. I designed Valkyrie as a hybrid of Aldus, a book face that Zapf derived from Palatino, and Trump Mediaeval, a text face by Zapf’s contemporary Georg Trump, another fantastic calligrapher-turned-type designer.
These alternatives apply equally to Book Antiqua, which was created as a Palatino clone for Microsoft Windows. Book Antiqua has caused its share of controversy over the years—Zapf himself considered it an unethical pillaging of his work. But in recent times, the alleged pillager (Monotype) acquired the alleged pillagee (Linotype), thereby extinguishing the beef.
Fans of Palatino or Zapf will enjoy Robert Bringhurst’s excellent book Palatino: The Natural History of a Typeface, which catalogs the many variations of Palatino that Zapf made over 60 years, and gives due credit to his punchcutter August Rosenberger.