Mastro de Paja
That should be all the introduction necessary for this pipe. Even if you don’t speak Italian. I was in Milan for the weekend and visited Cosimo and Leonardo at Al Pascia at Via Torino 61, very close to the magnificent Duomo Cathedral. I spent a glorious hour there, looking at a collection of pipes that boggles the mind and makes one wish one was a millionaire. My wife, understanding my passion for this sort of thing, tactfully left us to get on with it.
Alas, I am not a millionaire, but I can feel like one while I smoke this gorgeous Mastro. Perfectly engineered and beautifully decorated with the faux spigot, this delightfully grained pipe is a joy to own and use. The pipe is stamped on the left hand side with “Mastro de Paja” “Fatta a mano” (Hand made). The underside of the bowl is marked “Per Al Pascia”.
On the right hand side of the bowl is stamped “Pesaro” together with the sought after Sun stamp. The silver on the shank is also stamped with the Mastro signature and the stem is further decorated with a round silver badge.
This pipe is so well balanced that it will hang by the button on the mouthpiece from my lower teeth without my having to bite down on it with the upper dental equipment. The mouthpiece is 20 mm wide and 8 mm thick at the button.
The maker of this pipe decided not to give it a full spigot and opted for a traditional stem fitting and placed a silver sleeve to give the impression of a spigot pipe. A beautiful piece of intelligent camouflage, as true spigots have a nasty habit of shaking loose during use. The effect of that happening with a bent pipe is obvious. Imagine dropping this magnificent piece of briar onto a hard surface.
I took the first opportunity I could to smoke this masterpiece and filled it for the first time in the late afternoon on returning to our hotel. I sat in the little garden with a cup of coffee and enjoyed my new pipe in the shade of a creeping vine, which covered the pergola around me, offering some protection from the sun and the 28 degrees heat of the late afternoon. I shall never forget that simple experience in the heart of Milan. “Black Mallory” never tasted so good or smoked so well. The pipe smoked to the bottom of the bowl and returned nothing more than a fine grey ash.
And, for the guys at Al Pascia, many thanks for a memorable hour in your company, the pipe and your kindness. This pipe will be the pride of my collection. I truly hope that we meet again.