I spend a lot of time in the United States, ok all my life, all the time, but I really do appreciate the products from other countries that are passionate about their quality and reputation. Germany has their cars, Switzerland has their watches and I’m sure there are many other examples. From Italy I enjoy what I know as Italian food, Italian cars are some of the most beautiful in the world and Italian wearables have a reputation for fine quality. Recently I got the chance to review a handmade Italian leather journal from Central Crafts called the Bellagio.
Central Crafts is based out of the UK and has been building relationships with small artisan product makers since 1999. The journal I spent time with is from a small family run leather workshop in Florence Italy. The Bellagio is one of many variations on the classic A5 size journal that Central Crafts offers on their website.
- Material: Italian Calf Leather
- Price: $33 US – dependent upon exchange rate
- Size: 6” x 8 ½” x ¾”Length Overall
- Colors available: Aubergine (Dark Purple), Black, Chocolate, Fuchsia and Red
- Paper: Blank cream colored acid free paper
140 Character Review – Italian leather cover in rich chocolate brown with a cool paisley pattern and great paper makes for an enjoyable holder of ink and words.
Construction Fit & Finish
A well-made journal with a little bit of cover flex and corners that are tastefully unadorned. The paper binding is tightly sewn so when using about the first 25% of the pages you get a slight spine hump to work around when writing on the back of the pages. I did not experience the annoyance of any pages flopping over on their own, regardless of where I open the journal up to. A good balance.
The cover is a beautiful chocolate brown with an embossed paisley design on the front and back. The calf leather texture is quite grippy which helps me carry the journal safely and a side benefit this surface texture is it doesn’t slide around on the desk at all.
The paper is cream colored, acid free and Italian sourced. I am not sure of the actual GSM weight but it feels heavy enough, maybe 90 gsm if I had to guess. My broad wet nib fountain pens performed very well with no feathering or bleed. There is some slight ghosting but I’m not a both sides of the paper person so I was ok with it. My gel, rollerballs, ballpoints and pencils worked fine with similar ghosting.
My experience says when a maker thickens the paper up much more to help remove all ghosting then they usually reduce the page count quite a bit for weight and thickness targets. Which speaking of page count I don’t know exactly how many pages there are and I tried to count a couple of times but my fat fingers kept slipping up so I’m going with ALOT of pages. The Bellagio comes in at just over ¾” thick.
What I would like to see in the Bellagio
- More paper options across Central Crafts’ entire journal lineup. The Bellagio only comes with blank paper. A choice of blank, ruled or dot grid would be nice.
- A ribbon page marker, some use them some don’t, I’m a user and I miss it. A sticky note is just out of character for this journal.
- A maker’s mark or some other ornamentation on the front or the back so I can quickly orientate the journal when I take it from my briefcase to take down a few lines or notes
- A few more technical specifications on the website for the various models. Paper weight and page count come to mind.
None of above nit-picks take away from the quality of the paper or this journal overall. At $33 US you get genuine Italian leather, wonderful paper and a very high quality build that is a pleasure to write in.
Thanks to Alma over at Central Crafts for sending me over a Bellagio to try out.
Remember: Write something nice……
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