Italians on Italians
Beyond Toscano
Il Sigaro della Sera
Most countries have a defining era that goes on to shape their destiny. For Italy, that time culminated in the Risorgimento – the resurgence that led to the unification of Italy’s different states into a single kingdom in the 19th Century. After the Risorgimento, everything changed – including the preferred cigar of the aristocracy.

Pre-revolution, it was Virginian cigars that were most celebrated by the Austrian rulers of Italy’s northern provinces, while in Sicily a strong cigar known as ‘fermentato forte’ was favored. As an act of patriotism to the idea of a unified Italy, and defiance to their adversaries, revolutionaries would openly smoke Toscano cigars in the faces of their opponents. It’s a look of defiance that became popular with many artists and intellectuals, keen to show their support for the revolution.
Finally, as the Austrians were driven out, so were their cigars, resulting in Toscano being the most smoked cigar in Italy and its ownership nationalized in a ‘Monopoly of Tobacco’, driving out all other cigars. As demand increased, so did production, with Royal Warrants being issued to manufacturers, who started production beyond just Florence, many in ex-convents, where the large open spaces were perfect for drying and rolling tobacco leaves.

With no rivals, the Toscano cigar needed no fancy packaging or artwork. It didn’t even have a name until 1927, when one was finally registered by royal decree. But through its resilience and hundred year presence as part of the fabric of Italian life, the Toscano cigar had cemented its place in the history books, and more importantly, the hearts of a nation.