Luigi Viprati

I got my first Viprati at the Sacramento show in November, 2003. I fell in love with the shape, the wood, the beauty of the pipe, and was impressed by how light it was for such a large pipe. As soon as I began to smoke it the first time, I knew I'd managed to get my hands on a fantastic pipe. The taste was pure and sweet, with only the slightest woodiness in a couple spots throughout the bowl. After a few bowls, the pipe was really starting to work its magic, especially with Latakia blends. Clearly, Luigi Viprati used good wood for this pipe, but was this one representative, or just special? I went on a search for more, and found a couple fairly quickly. These, too, proved to be superb pipes, demonstrating the same wonderful smoking qualities.

I have since had a chance to examine several of Luigi's pipes, and have gotten a general feel for his work. His pipes remind me, in a somewhat oblique sense, of Baldo Baldi's. They have that same sort of spontenaity, that passionate freedom in shape and design. I can see each of these men alone in his shop, working furiously with abandon, seeking to capture the spirit of the pipe quickly, before it vanishes from the wood, or their own muse departs. I love the feeling these pipes have! There, however, the similarity between Baldo's work and Luigis's own ends. Each man has his a clear voice, and expresses it articulately in his own designs. It's only in that glorious sense of freedom that I find similarity. There, and in the fact that both seem to make pipes that just smoke wonderfully.

Viprati's pipes do not exhibit the precision of the upper tier of the pipe making ranks; one of mine is drilled a little low, another has an indentation across the bowl from the draught hole, perhaps an indication that, in his passion, Luigi may have drilled with a little too much enthusiasm. But, it doesn't matter. It caked over quickly, and there's no sign of any sort of future problem. All the examples I have have examined are drilled well enough to be smoked without concern, and pipe cleaners follow the airway with little need for coercion. (Sometimes, I do abandon my tenacious puruit of perfection, even my penlight, and just follow the joy.) I'm certainly saving my pennies for another!

This is my first example of Viprati's work, a lovely 5Q slightly bent dublin, with a brindle lucite stem. Luigi uses exceptional wood for his pipes, as I believe the photo will demonstrate. The grain is lovely and tight, and the top is a remarkable display of beautiful birdseyes.

Okay, not ALL of these are mine. But, two of them are, and I love them. The pipe in the box is mine, a limited edition “Ciao Lira”, with a 1000 Lira coin set into the bottom. Luigi made these to commemorate the passage of the Lira in favor of the Euro. Or, was it meant to lament? The others are all Fiammata grade pipes, Viprati's highest. It's hard to imagine nicer grain!