Italians on Italians
Beyond Toscano
Il Sigaro della Sera
It’s not every day that an industry is born, let alone a cultural icon that goes on to inspire the world. But in Florence one hot summer Sunday in the early 19th Century, that’s exactly what happened. 

Tuscany’s cigar industry was in its infancy, with just a handful of farmers adopting tobacco as a crop they wanted to focus on. One such producer, Ferdinand III, was making cigars in the convent of St.Catherine delle Ruote in Florence. One afternoon, an unexpected storm rained down on the courtyard of Manufactory square, soaking a newly made batch of tobacco leaves. The staff spread them out in the sun to attempt to dry them out, but it was no use, they had begun fermenting. With the sun failing to dry the tobacco, as a last resort, the man in charge lit a fire and hung the damp leaves over it like laundry.

With little hope, Ferdinand quickly wrapped the strangely shaped tobacco into cigars and sold it cheaply to the rural suburbs. What was unexpected was how popular the new style of cigar would be. By drying the fermenting leaves over a fire, the smoke had infused in the tobacco and created a distinctive color and odor – both to become the hallmarks of the modern Toscano cigar.

Surprised by the success, Ferdinand wasted no time in adopting this strange new recipe and in 1818, converted the ancient St.Orsola convent in Florence into Toscano’s first factory – the new home of Sigaro Toscano, Italy’s favorite cigar.