Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Around the Campo: Cartoleria Pantheon
I have always had an affinity for office supply shops. Perhaps it is the rows and rows of neatly lined pens and markers, glue sticks and scotch tape, scissors .... all arranged by color, size, and type, that appeal to my obsessive appreciation of order. Or maybe it is the tremendous potential of all the stacks of empty notebooks and journals ... what will end up filling all those pages?
Well, Cartoleria Pantheon in Rome is no ordinary office supply shop - but it holds the same appeal - only the wow factor is amplified by a thousand percent. The walls of this tiny store are lined from floor to ceiling with beautiful hand-bound leather journals, sketchbooks, notebooks and albums for photos - all produced using traditional artisan techniques. They also have a tremendous assortment of fine paper, paper diaries, handmade marbled paper ... not to mention pens, inks, and wax seals.
Situated right next to the Pantheon the Cartoleria opened in February 1910 - so they are celebrating their 100 year anniversary this year. The shop was originally called "the pupils workshop" since upstairs in the same building, there was and still is a school. Back in the day, their entire business was selling stationery for the school children: inkwells, nibs, many styles of notebooks and book bags for the school. But over the years, they became a popular stop for Romans, and anyone with a passion for writing. Or, in my case, a vicarious passion for the tools of the writers trade.
Few of us are still putting pen to paper these days but there is a certain romantic nostalgia for writing that persists - especially when you visit a store like this. You are filled with dreamy notions of going to exotic places and doing amazing things worthy of writing about on the beautiful pages of these books. I have several of these leather bound journals with lovely marbled covers already, yet somehow, I can never resist the urge for another. Now I just need to get writing!