Ha­ba­nos. A Uni­ver­se of End­less Op­por­tu­ni­ties

ITA­LIANS AURELIO TU­FANO AND GIU­LIO AMA­TU­RO BE­CA­ME AN INVINCIBLE DUO. BOTH CROWNED AT THE HA­BA­NOS WORLD CHA­LLEN­GE CON­TEST LAST YEAR

Habanos - - Summary - BY / EX­CE­LEN­CIAS NEWSROOM

Giu­lio Ama­tu­ro put him­self on the ci­gar map by chan­ce. It hap­pe­ned mo­re than a de­ca­de ago du­ring a trip to Me­xi­co. Ea­ger by na­tu­re, he lo­ves to learn new things every day. On­ce he re­tur­ned to Italy, he star­ted his quest, which would help him un­ders­tand bet­ter this uni­ver­se and he was lucky to at­tend the first Tas­ter Cour­se held in Tu­rin, his ho­me­town. By doing so, Giu­lio, tas­ked with hand­ling risk ma­na­ge­ment in a ma­jor in­su­ran­ce com­pany, found the pas­sion that will lea­ve a mark on him forever.

So­met­hing si­mi­lar hap­pe­ned to Aurelio Tu­fano, who ca­me across Ha­ba­nos by chan­ce. He works in the e-com­mer­ce world and has ow­ned a com­pu­ting and mo­bi­le shop for 20 years now. He has ne­ver been much of a smo­ker of ci­ga­ret­tes or Ha­ba­nos, but a friend sho­wed him the uni­ver­se of ci­gars and pre­mium li­quors fif­teen years ago. Af­ter doing so­me ex­plo­ring, he un­ders­tood that Cu­ban Ha­ba­nos met all his ex­pec­ta­tions. From then on, he be­gan to study and felt cu­rious and ex­chan­ged views with ot­her ent­hu­siasts to aug­ment his know­led­ge. He even vi­si­ted Ha­va­na th­ree ti­mes. Li­ke Giu­lio, he com­ple­ted the Tas­ter Cour­se, be­si­de the Ha­ba­nos Aca­demy's Cour­se.

Des­tiny and pas­sion for ci­gars joi­ned the­se two Ita­lians in a so po­wer­ful allian­ce that ma­de them win last year's Ha­ba­nos World Cha­llen­ge (HWC) con­test, held as part of the 21st Ha­ba­nos Fes­ti­val.

When as­ked, both agreed that at­ten­ding this con­test was cer­tainly a cha­llen­ge and a great chan­ce to in­crea­se know­led­ge on Ha­ba­nos. It was al­so a won­der­ful op­por­tu­nity to ex­chan­ge view­points and get in con­tact

with ent­hu­siasts li­ke them, with whom bonds of friends­hip and res­pect we­re for­ged. Win­ning was a sa­tis­fac­tion, for them and for Italy, a country that has en­cou­ra­ged their cu­rio­sity on ci­gars and they now re­turn the fa­vor by sprea­ding such pas­sion.

Both point out that win­ning this im­por­tant con­test, af­ter so much ef­fort and sa­cri­fi­ce, against strong op­po­nents, has been a hu­ge sa­tis­fac­tion that they will va­lue and re­mem­ber forever, es­pe­cially tho­se exac­ting cha­llen­ges in the fi­nals or the Ha­bano Mo­ment, whe­re you are alo­ne on the sta­ge trying to con­vey everyt­hing you ha­ve been ca­re­fully pre­pa­ring for months. The hig­her the le­vel, the less mar­gin of error you ha­ve, and you must be a true com­pe­ti­tor in clutch ti­me, they said.

What do we need to par­ti­ci­pa­te at the HWC? We as­ked Aurelio and Giu­lio. The ans­wer ca­me prom­ptly: you need to ha­ve ex­ce­llent che­mistry as a team. It is real that ha­ving tech­ni­cal ex­per­ti­se is fun­da­men­tal, but cohe­sion is key and it was tan­gi­ble in the Ita­lian team. Many ap­proa­ched to them to know for how long they knew each ot­her. “It is a very cha­llen­ging com­pe­ti­tion pre­ci­sely be­cau­se you need to mas­ter se­ve­ral skills: tech­ni­cal and lin­guis­tic ex­per­ti­se, ex­ce­llen­ce and ima­gi­na­tion, fle­xi­bi­lity and ta­lent to im­pro­vi­se —per­haps the­se are the reasons why Italy and Cu­ba we­re in the fi­nals! —, and the abi­lity to know how to hand­le clutch ti­me. You need to be al­ways hum­ble and ready to learn new things about the who­le uni­ver­se of Ha­ba­nos,” the win­ners sta­ted.

It is the­re­fo­re that they sug­gest to tho­se ai­ming at win­ning the pres­ti­gious con­test to “study, push your­self hard, but abo­ve all, ha­ve fun and read our pre­vious ad­vi­ces! Smo­king and sha­ring in­for­ma­tion with all fans.” Af­ter win­ning the HWC, they re­main the sa­me: two great ent­hu­siasts who ha­ve gar­ne­red the res­pect of fans and ex­perts abroad and at ho­me, thanks to their know­led­ge.

In an in­ter­view gran­ted to the Cu­ban me­dia, Aurelio Tu­fano said that events li­ke this be­ca­me a uni­que op­por­tu­nity to study in depth the cul­tu­re of Ha­ba­nos and the tra­di­tion su­rroun­ding them. To him, you can find frag­ments of the his­tory of Cu­ba in every Ha­bano in Ha­va­na. “Every ti­me we smo­ke one of them, we are ma­king cul­tu­re and we are sho­wing ot­hers anot­her way of thin­king and li­ving, pretty much dif­fe­rent from ours. HWC is the ti­me whe­re each par­ti­ci­pant and team show their lo­ve for this world. In this com­pe­ti­tion, the au­dien­ce's in­ter­est is very much ali­ve and stirs cu­rio­sity. Thus, our goal is to con­vey this cul­tu­re. I think I can speak on behalf of fu­tu­re and past par­ti­ci­pants: com­pe­ting in the HWC in­crea­ses the pas­sion and en­cou­ra­ges us to en­rich our know­led­ge.”

Aurelio Tu­fano and Giu­lio Ama­tu­ro main­tain that every brand and vi­to­la has its right ti­me. Both lo­ve thick and thin ring gau­ges, such as La­gui­to No.1, alt­hough Aurelio high­ligh­ted he was ab­so­lu­tely pas­sio­na­te about Par­ta­gas and Bo­li­var Ha­ba­nos. The beauty of smo­king an ama­zing Ha­bano, in their view, lies in that uni­ver­se of end­less pos­si­bi­li­ties whi­le va­luing the fea­tu­res, his­tory, and cul­tu­re behind it. “Smo­king a Ha­bano is a pri­vi­le­ge not ever­yo­ne may ap­pre­cia­te or know how to ap­pre­cia­te. No mat­ter how your life, your work, your so­cial class are, whe­ne­ver you puff on a Ha­bano you en­ter in­to a sen­si­ble world that groups tho­se who feel the ur­ge to crea­te so­met­hing beautiful and ho­pe to en­rich our ea­ger­ness of aro­mas and tas­tes.”

Hen­ce the im­por­tan­ce of a con­test li­ke the Ha­bano Fes­ti­val, which they la­be­led as a great show­ca­se whe­re the won­der­ful world su­rroun­ding the cul­tu­re of Ha­ba­nos is ex­hi­bi­ted. “We sug­gest all ent­hu­siasts to en­ga­ge in this ex­pe­rien­ce. The most beautiful thing of this con­test is the spi­rit of gat­he­ring and the op­por­tu­nity to meet ent­hu­siasts from all over the world: peo­ple who are bon­ded with Ha­ba­nos and everyt­hing they stand for.”

Giu­lio Ama­tu­ro

PHO­TOS / RAÚL ABREU

Aurelio Tu­fano

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