Blog by Steve Laug
This week I am in the region of Milan, Italy for my work with the SA Foundation. I arrived in Milan and stayed at a quaint hotel in the heart of the old city overnight before heading North. In the morning I went for a walk to see if I could find the Savinelli pipe shop. About two blocks from the hotel I stumbled on a shop that filled my time. To my surprise we as standing in front of a shop I have always wanted to visit.
The sign above door of the shop read Al Pascia Dal 1906. The shop had been open since 1906 so it was an old timer. I paused outside and took photo above. As I walked through the door these display cases were ahead of me. I stopped and looked through the pipes, racks, rests and humidors in the cases in the entry of the shop. They were beautifully laid out and all of them called my name.
I turned to my left and entered the shop proper. It was a narrow shop with built in, well lit display cases and cupboards down each side. In the centre of the room was a large table where the two ladies who ran the shop would lay out pipes for a customer to examine. At the back of the room there was an office where the principal conducted business. His desk had many pipes and other items on the top that he was currently examining. I assume it either new stock or returns.
UI worked my way down the right side of the room looking at the pipes on display. The well lit shelves held many different Italian brands such as Moretti, Castello, Ardor, Ascorti, Cavicchi and others. Each were displayed beautifully. On the walls on either side of these cases were some older sandblast Pascia pipes. On the table in the middle was a selection of Pascia’s Curvy reverse calabash pipes that a previous customer was looking at when I arrived.
On the left side were other pipes made by a wide variety of European and even Japanese pipe makers. Some of theses included Dunhill, Tsuge, Kurt Balleby, Charatan, Kovalev, Former and more. There were also some American pipes – Briarworks, Todd Johnson, Pete Prevost to name a few. Really there were so many beautiful pieces of the pipe makers art available that it was overwhelming.
There were also many pipe racks, pipe bags, pipe rests and tools available. Along with them was a selection of leather goods and fine pipe cabinets like the one below.
When I first walked into the shop I had given a rebornpipes business card to the young lady who greeted me. She gave it to one of the principals of the shop Cosimo Sportelli. She said he would want to meet me.
I went to the table in the centre of the room and examined the Al Pascia shop made Curvy pipes on there. I have wanted to see them close up and examine them so this was the perfect time. There was a variety of both coloured and natural finished pipes to look through. I am not a big fan of coloured pipes, though these were nicely done. I set them aside and focused on the naturally finished ones. Most of what I looked at were Rhodesians with and without rings at the base of the cap. I settled on one and the saleswoman took it to the front of the store to prepare it for me.
I continued to look around the shop. I enjoyed looking at a display of cigar and cigarillo holders with amber stems and meerschaum or ivory bodies. They were quite stunning. There were also some large briar pipes on the walls for sale and display that were lovely. They even had a stand nice umbrellas. I could have spent much more time there but alas, time was running short.
Cosimo had come out and introductions were made. I was surprised when he said he knew me. It turned out that he was a reader of rebornpipes and said that he enjoyed blog and the craftsmanship of those who contribute. I was thoroughly surprised and thanked him. It was a pleasure to meet and visit with him. I asked if he would mind if we took a photo for the blog as I planned on writing about the visit. He concurred and we both removed our masks and struck a pose. I have included the photo below.
We parted company with warm regards and I made my way to the front of the shop. I paid my bill and was surprised with the beautiful packaging and bag that was handed to me.
I took the bag with me and boarded a train for an hour and one half ride north. Later that evening when I had settled in, I opened the bag to have a look at the pipe. I took it out of the bag and this what I found. there was a well wrapped box with a brochure of the brand inside.
I removed the ribbon and the wrapping paper and found a well made box. Still one more layer before I would see my new pipe.
I opened the box to find yet another layer. Inside was a very nice pipe sock stamped with the store logo.
I opened the drawstrings and removed the pipe. Wow what a gorgeous pipe. It fits well in my hand and is very light weight.
I look forward to smoking it when I return to Vancouver. I even have a tobacco in mind for the first smoke. In the meantime I am enjoying just looking at it and examining the craftsmanship as I turn it over in my hands.
If you are in Milan make sure stop by the shop as I am certain you will not disappointed. Say hello to Cosimo for me when your there and be sure to buy a pipe.