Italians on Italians
Beyond Toscano

The influence of a cigar super-fan

Mario Soldati was one of Italy’s most respected writers and directors, known as...
Il Sigaro della Sera
Mario Soldati was one of Italy’s most respected writers and directors, known as much for his larger-than-life personality as his award-winning productions. Like many men of his standing, he was a big fan of cigars, with one brand in particular fuelling his passion and featuring in much of his writing – the Toscano. 
While it was a love many fellow writers, including Paolo Granzotto and Aldo Santini shared, few dedicated quite so much of their prose to cigars as Mario. In an ever-changing world, he regarded cigars as ‘one of the few genuine pleasures we have left’ and enjoyed a lifetime of indulgence, from his very first cigar aged 18, to his last puffs aged 92. 
He may have loved tobacco, but Mario had little time for cigarettes, referring to them as a ‘nervous habit’ and ‘diabolically treacherous’, due to the way they become an addiction smokers rarely take time to fully appreciate. Cigars on the other hand, he believed were all about flavor, and the experience of smoking them a delightful psychological, rather than physiological one. While some turn to drugs to spark creativity, Mario would smoke a cigar, explaining ‘with drugs your mind gets hazy, with tobacco your mind gets clear’. 
Mario used to order his Toscano cigars direct from the factory and took great pleasure in removing the nails from the wooden box they arrived in one-by-one. He’d then break the cigars in half to create a jagged cut, which he believed gave the best draw. It was his personal visits that in a roundabout way led to the creation of the Garibaldi Toscano. 
As a regular buyer, Mario instantly noticed when a batch of cigars he bought were lighter and sweeter than usual. Upon quizzing the makers, he learnt that while all Toscano were made with Kentucky tobacco, when supplies in the primary Tuscan and Umbrian regions ran low, tobacco from Campania was used. While the experience of smoking Campania Kentucky was very similar, cigar connosseurs could easily tell the difference, so Mario suggested this tobacco be used to create a distinctively different cigar that could stand on its own merits and the Garibaldi was born. 
Named after the famous Italian general and ‘hero of two worlds’, the Garibaldi found a whole new legion of fans with its sweeter taste and smaller shape, perfect for capturing the US market. It just goes to show what can happen when the owner of a creative mind is inspired by a product they love.