Wish You Were Here by Betty Soldi


Betty Soldi is a firecracker (literally, she’s from Florence’s nearly two-century old Pirotecnica Soldi firework family). Calligraphist, creative thinker and wordsmith, her flair for design and art direction had guided her inspirational consultancy and artistic collaborations bettysoldi.com, and she is the author of the best-selling calligraphy and design book Inkspired. On Instagram @bettysoldi

Oh the swoosh of your pen as it hits the paper and out flow your thoughts. There’s nothing quite like handwritten notes of gratitude, contemplation and congratulations, pieces of each other that we share and actually keep. Our modern modes of communication are expedient and do not always allow for that space to ponder, to bite the top of your biro, to write out a brutta copia (“the ugly version” or a draft) and then compose a neater version. The care, the concentration, the time taken are all a show of the heartfelt art of writing.


Behind the Pen – Betty Soldi

The idea of travelling for the sake of curiosity and learning was developed in the 17 th century when knowledge was acknowledged to come from the external senses. Travel, therefore, was necessary for one to develop the mind and the Grand Tourists throughout Italy dispatched handwritten letters about their self-discovery and findings on human nature. By the18th century the fashion for sending picture postcards as souvenirs became the equivalent of today’s Twitter – with limited space to express oneself, reaching out to be received. A thought, an idea, a wish, a want, a drawing, a desire, all of life’s emotions scripted on a rectangle with a stamp licked with love.

The holiday postcard came into its own as the British seaside became an increasingly popular tourist destination post-war, and the ‘wish you were here’ sentiment effloresced worldwide, from Florence to French Polynesia. What did that fervour mean? It was a considered, thoughtful and open-hearted essential part of a holiday tradition to write and send a card, to show that you had been somewhere and that you altruistically shared that experience for it to be displayed back home or kept in a box, the emotion of the writing and receiving never quite fading. And there is the magic that writing holds. We all have it in our hands, and clasping a card or letter or even scribbled post-it is forever a special thing.


The magic of letter writing and calligraphy is everywhere with Betty

As a wordsmith, I love to craft words with meaning, and yes often it’s conveying their literal calligraphic beauty but also their sentiment. I have splashed tears inadvertently creating puddles of ink whilst baring my soul in a letter; I have dipped a pen into ocean saltwater to send a piece of me in that very ‘here and now’ moment to a cherished one; I constantly swoosh on a page and marvel at what brilliant, unrepeatable unique mistake might appear; I write very fast so that rather than defining them, instinct prevails and I get to be surprised by my penned thoughts reflected. True self-discovery happens when we grasp a pencil and let go and watch our journaling journey flow – after all, isn’t it true that our destiny is all written in the stars?!

Wish you were here! ISSIMO x Pineider is the ultimate collection for the prolific penpal.  A kit of 20 postcards featuring Il Pellicano and Italy in the lens of photographer John Swope and more, as well as the iconic Pellicano hotel leather luggage tag.

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