How an artisanal pipe is born: in Calabria the best heather

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When the last star goes out in the sky, the man slowly prepares a pipe and lights it. Thus ends the famous poem The Steddazzu by Cesare Pavese, the last written during the period of confinement in Brancaleone, in Calabria. In verse and in everyday lifethe pipe was the companion of Pavese as well as of other men – and also women – famous and unknown.

Symbol of calm, of meditation, of time that flows into reflection and thought, the pipe, from a mere object for smoking tobacco, has acquired over the centuries aesthetic values which go beyond its main function. And the gestures carried out by pipe smokers are considered a real one liturgy that moves away from the frenetic pace, from stress and predisposes to silence and relaxation.

The pipe is one of those objects that most appear in Van Gogh’s endless pictorial production: his masterpieces are famous in which he portrays himself in the act of smoking it.

Elegant vice of artists, poets, writers: Beethoven, Bach, Shakespeare, Byron, Hemingway, Joyce, Umberto Saba, Ungaretti, Giovanni Pascoli, Baudelaire, Rimbaud, Simenon, but also Einstein and Freud. Even the writers George Sand and Virginia Woolf and the actress Greta Garbo they were great admirers of the pipe.

Loved by famous people, it has inspired symphonies and literary works to the point of becoming a collector’s item and even its museum creation. For example, the fans who, in the historic final of the 1982 World Cup, watched President Pertini and the then coach of the National Team Bearzot exchange their pipes, exulting for the victory of the Azzurri, remember it well.

And Calabria, with its precious briar, Erica Arborea, present in the woods of Serre, Aspromonte and Sila, delivers a unique raw material to Calabrian artisanswhose skilled hands and respect for tradition make each pipe a jewel of elegance with an excellent flavor.

Erica Arborea is an evergreen shrub, which grows between 450-1100 meters above sea level, from whose root we get the “log”, defined by many as a “vegetable diamond” whose beauty in the grain, hardness, resistance to fire and flaming, allow you to have a valuable product in your hands (and between your teeth).

Grenci pipes: refinement famous all over the world

a69b915624.jpgReal jewels of craftsmanship, the Pipe Grenci they are masterpieces of authenticity and naturalness that have the flavor of slowness. Twenty years is the minimum time it takes before Maestro Vincenzo Grenci devotes himself to the creation of each of the pipes in his shop that smells of wood, a Brognaturoafter having personally chosen the raw material in dense woods of the Serre Vibonesi.

It is precisely the precious Calabrian briar that Grenci brings to his workshop and carves to form what are called “plates”, intended for boiling in copper boilers to eliminate tannin and then left to rest to ensure a slow natural drying process. Twenty-two hours of boiling, twenty years of seasoning, one day for carving and one for finishing. Basically, today, in his shop, Vincenzo Grenci has the roots uprooted in 2002 in his hands, the year in which the euro was introduced in Italy.

A process that requires patience, precision, passion and time: the teachings that Grenci inherited from his father Domenico, who had made his fortune making his pipes as an emigrant to America and who in 1965 decided to return to the small village of Brognaturo to continue his activities.

Grenci is known and appreciated not only in Italy, where he had, among othersadmirers like Bearzot, Lama, and President Pertini – whose meeting with Domenico Grenci was immortalized in this historical photo – but also abroad.


On 2 June 1997, President Scalfaro honored Domenico Grenci with the honor of Knight of the Order of Merit of the Republic.


An excellence of Calabrian craftsmanship protagonist of the filming of the Oscar-winning director Gabriele Salvatores that came from Grenci on the occasion of the Dubai Expo 2020 to tell the art and craftsmanship that make each of his pipes a masterpiece of indisputable value (Click here to see the video).

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The secret of success lies in the quality of the raw material that is born in an enchanting forest heritage, in the processing that faithfully follows the methods of the past and in the imagination of refining and modeling unique pieces.

19f503b1d7.jpgThere are many famous admirers, but the pipe is also extremely popular – explains Master Grenci. She is experiencing a new successful season and is increasingly appreciated by young people and women. To smoke it you need a predisposition of mind. Unlike the cigarette, she demands a daily cure and a ritual: the cleaning of the pipe, the selection of the mixture, the control of the combustion, the smoke that spreads around. They are sublime pleasures that one must know how to appreciate with the right ways and times. You can’t be in a hurry and I think this is a life lesson against the contemporary frenzy. And then, the pipe stays with us waiting for the next smokewhile the cigar and the cigarette dissolve forever in the air ».

Meanwhile, Grenci is thinking about the next briar to be uprooted, which he will work in 2040 together with his daughter Anita, already immersed in the scent of pipes that emanates from his Master’s shop.

Calabria Pipe by the Carlino brothers: the art of the pipe for four generations

Strictly Made in Calabria are the pipes that the Carlino brandfrom Mandatoriccio, has been producing and exporting around the world for a century. A long tradition that has been handed down for 4 generations and is made up above all of experts and specialists of briar sketchers, masters of cutting: the so-called “saws”.

The company was established in 1931 come on Carlino brothers which soon established themselves as major producers of sketches in the world. With the beginning of the Second World War, the activity suffers a limitation as many employees are called to arms, but despite the conflict the activity continues and the production of pipe sketches does not cease. Only at the beginning of the 50s the company recomposes itself and resumes its activity at full capacity, enhancing its production with sketches and plates of the highest levelin line with a increasingly demanding customers looking for excellent veins and particular cuts from which to obtain pipes of great value.


Carlo Carlino, master craftsman owner of Calabria Pipethus follows in the footsteps of his father, passing on the secrets and teachings of those who preceded him and expanding the production up to final creation of unique and elegant pieces, strictly in Calabrian briar. “Each stage of processing – proudly tells Carlo – is carried out entirely in our company, from the cutting of briar logs in the Greek Sila to boiling, from natural seasoning to the creation of high quality, prestigious and unique value pipes ». A long and painstaking process that requires, for each pipe, on average more than 100 manual steps and brings with it the beauty and wisdom of a meticulous craftsmanshipfruit of the passion that binds the Carlino family to pipes and which was even worth one telegram of appreciation by the aforementioned pipe connoisseur Sandro Pertini.

A certificate of esteem of great value, which can be admired, together with numerous ancient pipes of rare beauty, tools and work machines dating back to the 50s and 60sin the Carlino Pipe Museum which will arise precisely in the premises that have seen the success of the company grow and strengthen over the years. A success that extends far beyond the borders of Italy and reaches China, the United States and Russia where passionate fans of the pipe recognize the Calabrian craftsmanship of the Carlino pipes unique specimensmasterpieces that stand out for their aesthetics, elegance and functionality.

Antique pipe photos Carlino, rmade entirely by hand from very special briar pieces called partridge eye.


The article is in Italian

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