We often tend to go abroad to see things that interest us, without thinking about all the things that could be seen at home. Every time I come back from travelling abroad, I enjoy my country more. I believe this is also true for the "world of pipes". During the last few years, I have been able- and not really by chance, these were planned trips- to visit antique and old pipe collections, as well as smoking accoutrements on show in various European cities (Vienna, Salzburg, Dublin, London, Paris). This year I finally decided to do what I had not done in years, see what I knew was here in Italy: the Savinelli Collection of antique pipes, especially meerschaums, and Alberto Paronelli‘s first Italian pipe museum. Maybe I should be ashamed to say this, but the mere fact that they were right there, not too far away, combined with a certain laziness had always made me put a visit to them off to next week...
After this necessary confession, let me tell you about what I actually saw.
I had often heard about the Savinelli Collection through various collectors‘ magazines that often reproduced photographs of the most famous objects. The collection was started in the thirties by Carlo Savinelli and has been continued by his heirs. It comprises about three hundred and fifty pieces which are very well displayed on large and well-lit book cases. One immediately notices the large number of meerschaum pipes, many of which are quite big, and cigar-holders both with perfect coulottages, as well as pristine ones. It was very exciting to see these works of art that until then I had always only seen through photographs. The collection also includes porcelain, white clay (Gouda) and boxwood pipes adorned with classical silver decorations, as well as other motifs and materials. It is very hard to describe the objects these beautiful objects that I admired so I have included some photographs that may help you picture them better. If you are a lover of such objects my best advice is ... use your own eyes. The first Italian pipe museum stands on the banks of the lake of Varese- more or less the heartland of the Italian pipe production- in the pleasant town that goes by the name of Gavirate. We must thank Alberto Paronelli for its existence. Although I know that he has been involved in this field for years and years, it is nonetheless amazing to see how many pipes and smoking accoutrements of every possible type that he has been able to amass. Every aspect of pipe smoking is covered: ornamental, ethnographic or aristocratic. The collection is housed in the old family house and has been excellently displayed on two floors. Paronelli himself, together with his grandson Antoine and his daughter Astrid, guides visitors around what he likes to call the International Pipe Academy rather than museum.
(...to be continued)
Prossimo articolo: The Savinelli Collection - part II