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Cigar Tip: Roman Holiday with Cigars

20 Oct 2011

ROME ― Back in June, I wrote that a “cigar vacation” can be two different things. It can be a trip to a cigar-producing country like Honduras, Nicaragua, or the Dominican Republic, where you learn about the artisan craft of handmade cigars, visit factories and fields, and learn about premium tobacco in its native environment.

Conversely, a cigar vacation can be a trip to anyplace—cigar-producing or not—where you simply allow ample time to enjoy cigars in outstanding settings. That’s what I did when I traveled to St. Thomas. And that’s also what I’m doing as I write this from Italy.

When you think of cigars and Italy, CAO’s Italia line may come to mind. That blend has a bit of Italian-grown tobacco in the filler (and is otherwise mostly Honduran). Notwithstanding this anomaly, premium tobacco from Italy is quite rare. In the hours I’ve spent driving between Rome, Sorrento, and other locales in this country, I’ve seen plenty of vineyards and fields of olive trees, but I have yet to come across a single tobacco plant.

Still, I would argue Italy is a wonderful destination for a cigar vacation. The culture here in October is very outside-oriented, meaning all of the action is in piazzas, outdoor cafés, on balconies, at open-air markets, parks, and at seaside sidewalks. So even though an unfortunate smoking ban is in effect for indoor spaces, you’ll want to be outside anyways. That’s where you get the best views and the most entertainment.

Smoking is widely accepted outside. I’ve spent afternoons sitting at a sidewalk café with a glass of wine or a cappuccino, people-watching and enjoying a fine cigar. Space may be at a premium in Rome, Sorrento, or Naples, and the tables may be packed in tight, but the locales don’t seem to mind cigar smoke. They’re all too busy puffing away at cigarettes to notice.

Another reason Italy is a great cigar locale: The food is amazing, and nothing follows a great meal like a great smoke. The best cure for a belly full of cheeses and meats is a long stroll and a good smoke. You can’t argue with that.

I’m not sure I’ll ever be back in Italy. It’s crazy expensive, and there are so many other places I’d like to visit in the world. For the short time I’m here, though, I’m going to enjoy every moment and enjoy the premium cigars I brought along. And in my book that definitely qualifies as a cigar vacation.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

5 Responses to “Cigar Tip: Roman Holiday with Cigars”

  1. Nick M. Thursday, October 20, 2011 at 7:10 am #

    Italy is bad-ass and yes, expensive. I sat down in St. Mark's Square for a smoke one afternoon in Venice and ordered a Coke for the wife and myself. 16 Euros for two 3dl beverages. I think the coolest thing about Europe in general is that beer is cheaper than soda and in many cases, water. Have fun dude.

  2. Patrick Ashby Thursday, October 20, 2011 at 8:52 am #

    The only thing that isn't really too expensive is the wine. And I like how restaurants serve it by the litre instead of by the bottle — the litre is about 25% bigger.

  3. Franklin Thursday, October 20, 2011 at 9:01 am #

    I want a litre Cola!!!!

  4. Dario Thursday, October 20, 2011 at 11:07 am #

    I am Italian, and spend every summer there. Nothing beats enjoying a fine cigar (cuban or otherwise) with a nice acidic red wine. I would highly recommend traveling the unbeaten path, and visiting cities such as Bologna, Modena, Parma, Padova, Mantova etc. You will get the true magnificent beauty of Italy without those annoying tourist menus at every corner.

  5. Heavy Friday, October 21, 2011 at 12:11 am #

    Awesome enjoy your vacation bro!