Italians on Italians
Beyond Toscano
Il Sigaro della Sera

Like many exotic new discoveries, cigars were met with wonder when they first made it to Europe. While their discovery was well documented, and their rise to popularity gradual, several legends arose that claimed to tell the myth of the tobacco plant’s origin.

Persian legend has it tobacco was discovered by following the advice of a Saint. After the death of his wife, a young groom was grieving inconsolably. He was visited by an Anchorite Saint who told him to go and spend time in his wife’s tomb – and while there, look out for an unusual plant. Once found, he should pick some leaves, let them dry, roll them together and then light them. Upon inhaling the smoke, the man would find comfort and enlightenment that would bring joy to his heart. It may be a legend, but it had the people of Persia enchanted.

It’s a similar story elsewhere in the Middle East, where a prophet was believed to have saved the life of a snake. But rather than be grateful, the viper bit him on the wrist. Acting quickly, the prophet sucked out the poison and spat it onto the ground, where a short time later, a tobacco plant sprouted and grew. When smoked, the leaves of the plant were found to have the bitterness of a serpent’s fangs, but the sweetness of the prophet’s saliva, making it an enchanting experience.

Whether you choose to believe such stories or not, there’s no denying the allure of tobacco goes back generations.