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Italian Pipe Production Panorama - part III

Italian Pipe Production Panorama - part III

The master craftsmen in Lombardy created the Italian tradition by ignoring the lures of overseas requests and were able to impose their style on the world. Inevitably we begin with Savinelli, just as they are celebrating their one hundred and twenty years of activity with an extraordinary commemorative pipe, shaped from old briar blocks that have been cut underneath due to the model‘s shape. The history of this firm is summarized in the splendid collection of antique pipes, in meerschaum and other materials, as well as those of their own production: milestones of pipe making evolution.

Considering the present three hundred pieces of this antique pipe collection housed in the Milan office (which was begun by Achille Savinelli in the thirties and has been developing ever since the end of the war), we can see how the search for and acquisition of the most precious pipes derives from genuine love for this object. It is the same love that one discovers in a visit to the factory near Varese. I will not conceal the fact that we noticed this with a certain surprise, as we thought that the sheer size of the Savinelli enterprise could induce a certain element of laxity. On the contrary, we were impressed by the merciless checks carried out during the production, the careful selection process by which a pipe becomes part of a given series, the cruelty- we are tempted to say- with which certain pipes that have reached the final stages are scrapped due to a more or less relevant defect. An example: I have been smoking Giubileo Oros for years, but I would never have guessed that only one in a thousand (on average) of all Savinelli pipes acquire the right to become one. I saw the statistics on the tables of those responsible for this selection and I can assure you that in some cases this proportion can be even lower. Yes, Savinelli pipes: isn‘t it surprising, yet reassuring, that only forty percent of the pipes produced in the Savinelli factory receive the prestigious emblem? The remaining sixty percent are sent around the world with other names, often imbued with "Britishness"! If you are looking for someone to symbolize the pride of having spread the prestige of Italian pipes throughout the world through years of perseverance and creative effort, it is Mario Vettoruzzo, eighty-two years old, with the firm since the fifties and among pipes since his youth. He is now in charge of the final inspection, but not only this: he is still an innovator (the idea of balsa wood filters was his) and advisor; a real "pillar" of the company, every single day with his pipe in his mouth, as careful and determined as an immensely ambitious youth.

Last but not least, we must not forget Bogni who produces almost all of the completely handmade Autographs.
((to be continued...)

Prossimo articolo: Italian Pipe Production Panorama - part IV