Gioia Alleria Amaranto and Nuvola — Italian flair on a budget

I reviewed the Gioia Alleria back in January, and since then I’ve watched this brand start to pick up steam. Gioia now has an excellent UK distributor and retailer, Grandvision Pens, and stockists across the US and Europe. No longer do you have to buy direct.

As well as expanding its reach, Gioia has also brought out new poetically named variants of the Alleria, following the well-trodden paths of other Italian brands like Leonardo and Scribo.

And lo: the models I have in hand today are the Nuvola, which is black with thin bands of cloudy blue, and the Amaranto, which is a wine red. I ordered the Nuvola back in July, and Grandvision sent me the Amaranto just this week as a review sample.

Everything I said in my original review holds true. The Alleria remains a sturdily handsome but odd looking pen.

It’s big and solid, with square ends, a broad stepped barrel and long section with threads unusually located at its tip.

There’s plenty of trim and an unusual clip. It makes for an unmistakable look.

Under the hood is a German piston filler and a branded JoWo steel nib with plastic feed.

As I’ve said before, I’m no longer a piston snob, especially at the affordable end of the market, but a piston is a nice feature and requires that little extra engineering to pull off.

All of which is to say: the Alleria represents a lot of pen for £135.

Finishing is good, although not perfect. My Nuvola arrived with a sharp squared-off cap lip. The Amaranto seemed not to have had a final polish on its tipping — it was perfectly aligned and shaped, but rough like sandpaper. Both were easy fixes in literally seconds with micromesh pads.

I opted for a fine nib on each of these models, and although the Amaranto runs ever so slightly wider, they’re both true to size, wet and consistent and precise.

This is why I like JoWo.

You may remember that my first Alleria developed a leak at the back of the piston that ruined one of my pen trays. I was unable to dismantle it for inspection, so binned it. I’m pleased to say that neither of these new pens leak, so I put my first experience down to bad luck.

These two pens have a few surprising differences beyond simply how they look. The Amaranto is a full 4mm shorter than the Nuvola, and its cap unscrews in half a turn, while the Nuvola takes nearly two turns.

The barrel engraving is very different too.

You expect some variation in a low-volume product, but this degree is surprising and I guess indicates a change in product specifications. For what it’s worth, I prefer the feel of the shorter Amaranto!

Now, about the editions themselves.

The Nuvola is unusual. It’s mostly pure black, but some of the trim bands, instead of being plated metal, are made from a swirly blue resin.

I’ve not seen this kind of design before, and it really appealed to me. You get a bit of playful visual interest but without the sometimes overwhelming effect of a swirly resin across the whole pen (especially a pen as big as this one). Overall I think it’s really well done, and with the silver-coloured trim it’s clean and professional.

The Amaranto is wine-coloured rather like the Scribo Tropea, and paired with gold trim.

The resin is very swirly, with some parts shimmery and others rather transparent, giving a glimpse of components beneath.

Somehow the gold trim is not as ‘in your face’ as on other pens I’ve owned, and it complements the resin well.

Overall this is a very successful colour scheme in my opinion.

The shape of the Alleria remains its most polarising feature: it lacks some of the graceful curves of its Italian competition.

And the market never stands still, with the ink window-equipped Leonardo Momento Magico being the newest rival.

But in the face of this competition, it’s hard to argue with Gioia’s value proposition: JoWo nib, piston filler, quick cap, nice polish, handmade in numbered editions in Italy. All for £135. And with each new colour scheme announced, there’s more chance you’ll find a look that appeals to you. On my radar is the Grotta Azzura, an almost tropical blue paired with ruthenium trim.

Anyway, I digress. My last word: after trying three Allerias, I still think they’re great pens and phenomenal value for money. I strongly recommend you check one out.

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