Travel essentials: the fountain pen

The fountain pen is an antiquated notion nowadays. But, worlds away from the Insta story or the Go-Pro footage that might lie unedited for months, there is a pleasing immediacy and permanence about the act of writing on vacation.

Perhaps it’s the kinetic ease on which the nib glides across the page, or the lustre of the ink as it first touches the paper. Or simply the act of just making yourself stop, for an hour or two, and letting the sights and sounds of the destination wash over you

Whatever the reason, vacation writing is an art that should be treasured. And what better way to document your travels than with a fountain pen carved from the kernels of one of the best writers in history? Montegrappa, the century-old Italian pen manufacturer, has produced a collection inspired by Ernest Hemingway, who was said to have used their pens as he travelled from Spain to Italy, Paris to the Florida Keys.

Evoking this wanderlust is ‘The Traveller’, set in sterling silver and adorned with airplanes, maps and passports, harking back to an era when travel was an adventure. Accompany with a light notebook from Rhodia or Midori, and remember Hemingway’s adage: “You belong to me and all Paris belongs to me and I belong to this notebook and this pencil.”

From $3,049 /

Writing history

Be inspired by these famous literary landmarks

Montmartre, Paris

Soak up what is arguably the most famous of artistic haunts, Montmartre. This bohemian neighbourhood only took root as Napoleon III ejected swathes of Parisians from the city centre. Free of laws and taxes, artists including Pissarro pushed creativity to its excess, alongside poets such as Paul Verlaine.

Cairo, Egypt

Cairo has recently become the bastion of new Middle Eastern writers, what with Basma Abdel Aziz’s Kafka-esque ‘The Queue’ – inspired by a long line outside a closed government building in downtown Cairo – or the apocalyptic ‘Otared’, set in Gezira Island in 2025.

Alejandro Selkirk Island, Chile

Jonathan Franzen escaped here to seek solitude after the death of his friend David Foster Wallace. Robinson Crusoe is said to be inspired by it. Head to this island, 500 miles off the coast of Chile, to understand isolation at its truest.