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New To Italian Pens, Where To Try/buy?



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Visconti and Pineider both have their stores in Florence. I'm unsure of any other stores in Italy that aren't brand-specific stores though.

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Novelli has a store in Rome-Has a website and Facebook page-I've bought several pens from them, and they have provided me with excellent customer service in all my dealings with them from the US.

Casa Della Stilografica has a store in Florence-has a website and Facebook page-again I've had no issues dealing with them for several purchases from the US.

Both of these have been in business since the 1950s, and carry a wide selection of pens on their websites. I'm not sure what the range of their instore stock might be.

Ercolessi in Milan carries Santini Italia pens, which may also be worth a look if you're nearby. I have no experience with the store.

Edited by Herrjaeger
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Thanks All,

 

Looking at some of these sites is intriguing, any of these brands especially known for their nibs?

My taste tends to simple / modern design, many of these these pens seem to all have a certain flourish to them!

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Thanks All,

 

Looking at some of these sites is intriguing, any of these brands especially known for their nibs?

My taste tends to simple / modern design, many of these these pens seem to all have a certain flourish to them!

A lot of the Italian brands have typically had quality issues on their nibs. The pens are beautiful though no matter which one you go with. I've heard a lot of good things about Leonardo pens, and I love my Momento Zero from them. The nib writes well, too. Visconti is also bringing back their 18k Gold nibs which will hopefully be a lot better than their 23k palladium nibs. Surprisingly, Montegrappa has some simpler pen designs in their Elmo line or their Monte Grappa line (yes, Montegrappa makes a pen called the Monte Grappa). Just make sure you have an idea on what you want to spend because Italian pens can get expensive real quick.

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I spent a little over a week in Italy last year, and went to some of my favorite pen shops, and a few new ones as well.

 

In Rome, I highly recommend Novelli. I buy something from them pretty much any time I'm in Rome- and also frequently when I'm not! It's an easy walk from the Trevi fountain. An easy walk from there, across from the front of the Pantheon, is Stilo Fetti. It's a beautiful shop with a great selection of pens, though I've never bought from them. A quick walk from the Vatican will take you to Stilograph Corsani, another well stocked pen shop that I haven't actually bought from...

 

In Florence, Casa della Stilografica is the place to go. It's close to the Galleria dell'Accademia, if you're planning to go see David. There are actually two stores now, the original and a newer store directly across the street. I purchased a pen from the new store this summer, and have ordered one of their exclusive LEs from their website since, and have been pleased with the prices and service. Visconti has a store closer to the main shopping area as well.

 

I also managed to get to the Montegrappa showroom in Bassano del Grappa, and it was a great experience. The staff was very friendly, and while I didn't buy anything, one of my traveling companions did, and she was given several free gifts on top of it. We were also served water and treats while we were there, and apparently, with more notice, we could have gotten a factory tour. The town of Bassano del Grappa was also a beautiful, walkable town with a dramatic perch atop the hill and a famous covered bridge. It's about an hour from Verona or Venice, and was a great place to spend a relaxing afternoon off the beaten path.

 

I also bought some nice pen cases from the Fabriano boutique in Venice. They have lots of paper and accessories, as well as a selection of writing instruments. But while they have a good selection of fountain pens, it's not their focus. There are Fabriano stores in many Italian cities though.

 

Good luck and have fun!

Edited by Vicary
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Thanks All,

 

Looking at some of these sites is intriguing, any of these brands especially known for their nibs?

My taste tends to simple / modern design, many of these these pens seem to all have a certain flourish to them!

Although I don’t own one, Santini Italia states on their website that they individually test their nibs before shipment, and include the writing sample with the pen (as some nibmeisters do as well). It’s my understanding that if you experience a problem, the pen goes directly back to the maker. There have been several threads about these pens recently, and the Ercolessi store in Milan carries the brand. Here’s a link to the Santini website, and you may click on the Gold Nibs tab for more info about their nibs and testing.

https://www.santini-italia.com/index.html

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In Spring 2017, I visited the Visconti shop in Florence. It is a small shop. The door handle is just like the pens clips, cute and hard to miss. They had a table set, where customers could test the inks and nibs. They had discontinued models/colors at discounted prices. Customer service was great. I selected one of the discounted pens and the attendant changed its nib for the one I liked. Enjoy your trip!

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Although I don’t own one, Santini Italia states on their website that they individually test their nibs before shipment, and include the writing sample with the pen (as some nibmeisters do as well). It’s my understanding that if you experience a problem, the pen goes directly back to the maker. There have been several threads about these pens recently, and the Ercolessi store in Milan carries the brand. Here’s a link to the Santini website, and you may click on the Gold Nibs tab for more info about their nibs and testing.

https://www.santini-italia.com/index.html

Thanks for this link, I wasn't aware of this manufacturer (I haven't been lurking in Italian pens very long) and they have some very tempting pens. I bookmarked it for later because I don't want to go nuts.

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Marco at Novelli in Rome is the guy and place to see. Maybe email him ahead of your visit and let him know what you're interested in so he can be sure to obtain something you might like in advance if he doesn't have it in stock (though he can always ship something to you after your visit, of course). Note that they are closed on Sundays. novelli@novelli.it

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If you're in Milano, besides Ercolessi, you can also easily drop buy Mazza Stilografiche, their shop is close to the Duomo, so it's easy to reach if you're sightseeing downtown: Via Cesare Cantù, 3 - 20123 - Milano.

(with your back to the Duomo entrance, walk away from the Duomo, straight under the arch in the block of buldings in front of you, you are now in via Orefici (orefici means goldsmiths, the goldsmith shops used to be in this street...), Via Cesare Cantù is one of the short side streets).

They are one of the oldest fountain pen shops still open in town, they were founded in 1955 and as far back as my memory can go they have never moved.

They have a nice selection of Italian pens. They also have a repair lab. One of my vintage Aurora 88s will be taken to them for repair soon.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Looking at some of these sites is intriguing, any of these brands especially known for their nibs?

 

As far as I'm aware, only two Italian pen manufacturers — only Aurora, and Santini Italia — make their own nibs; all the other brands just buy nibs from Germany (predominantly JoWo and Bock) or, in rare instances, Japan (Sailor nibs on the Montegrappa Ammiraglio) and fit them on their pen bodies. Out of the others, only Visconti offered palladium nibs, outside of everyone else's garden variety gold and steel nibs.

 

Maybe FPN's membership (especially the more vocal subset) is inherently a biased sample space, and I'm not denying that perhaps it's my personal prejudice, but it seems to me that whenever I read about the other Italian brands and "their" nibs, it's mostly about poor quality control. It's never, "Bock does such a good job for Leonardo Officina Italiana, that the pens invariably write well out of the box, so it makes sense for Leonardo to outsource its nib production," or, "Visconti has such good quality control that it is stricter than anyone else in which nibs it allows to leave the factory fitted on its pens, and really take the German nib manufacturer to task on all the nibs that don't past muster." My own experience with Leonardo is that the nib that came with my acrylic Momento Zero is imperfect (with asymmetrical tines, and the tipping on one tine being both thicker and wider than on the other), the celluloid Momento Zero I ordered last year hasn't yet left the retailer's because the nib on that pen is imperfect on inspection, and the retailer is suffering delays in sourcing a fit replacement nib with the Leonardo branding that won't lead to the pen being returned by me. One US retailer has stopped carrying Leonardo pens and told me the reason is because the return rate of the pens is about one in three, and always because of the nib. So, I've formed the conclusion that Leonardo is known for their nibs being a çrap-shoot, if so many purchases are sending their pens back. Reading reviews and user comments on Visconti does not give the impression that they are any better.

 

Aurora's nibs aren't nearly as consistent as, say, Sailor's but they're still generally pretty good. I have ten Aurora pens here — most of them fitted with EF nibs — and six more on the way. Maybe it's just my bad luck, but I'd recommend staying away from the brand's 100th anniversary commemorative "Cento Italia" limited edition models; the nibs that came with both of the two I bought last year were shockingly bad, and I haven't seen the third Cento Italia pen I ordered yet. However, the nibs on all other models/editions, especially the Ottantotto and Optima, that I have never arrived writing scratchily or too dryly, cut asymmetrically or exhibited hard starts (to make me inspect them for "baby's bottom" or "inverted canyon"). From a variety of reviews and comments, it seems Aurora's nibs are known for being finer and therefore (in my opinion) more true to the stated nib width grade — Extra Fine is extra fine, unlike say gold Pelikan and Parker nibs — and offering distinctive kinaesthetic feedback but without being scratchy.

 

I'm still testing my first Santini Italia pen and nib, but I ordered directly from the company and have been in touch with the representative throughout the fulfilment process (as well as now); I requested that the nib is ground in a particular way, and I was sent both a photo and video of the nib being tested, prior to the final steps of finishing off the pen for shipping, so the probability of the Santini nib being allowed out the door without passing decent quality control was low to nil.

 

My taste tends to simple / modern design, many of these these pens seem to all have a certain flourish to them!

 

Aurora makes plain black models with gold, chrome or ruthenium trim in both the cigar-shaped Ottantotto and flat-ended Optima product lines, as well as some with plain metal caps (with matching metal or black acrylic barrels). Santini Italia makes the Libra in plain black, ivory, and berry-coloured acrylic, as well as a variety of swirly acrylics and ripple-patterned ebonites.

I endeavour to be frank and truthful in what I write, show or otherwise present, when I relate my first-hand experiences that are not independently verifiable; and link to third-party content where I can, when I make a claim or refute a statement of fact in a thread. If there is something you can verify for yourself, I entreat you to do so, and judge for yourself what is right, correct for valid. I may be wrong, and my position or say-so is no more authoritative and carries no more weight than anyone else's here.

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When visiting pen shops in Italy, especially if you are not heading to the most well know shops downtown, one of the interesting thing to do is look for discontinued pens.

Some of the smaller shops still hold mint Delta pens, more rarely Omas, or discontinued Viscontis.

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Any recent production nibs made of palladium will be insanely expensive, since palladium went from about $800/ozt. a year and a half ago to almost $2500/ozt. now :(

 

When I was in Rome, I was so busy taking in the city and it's food and drink, that I only looked for pens half-heartedly... now I wish I'd spent more time chasing down a nice pen, although the Grappa and wines I *did* find were quite excellent!

David-

 

So many restoration projects...

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Novelli in Rome,excellent service and prices. :D

 

+1 - they are wonderful especially their customer service.

"Today will be gone in less than 24 hours. When it is gone, it is gone. Be wise, but enjoy! - anonymous today

 

 

 

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