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
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.”