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The pipes of Valle Argentina

Perhaps not everyone knows that a pipe, in particular the briar-root pipe, originates from the heather wood, typical plant of the Mediterranean scrub, spread in the West Liguria and Cote d’Azur. The wood processing into the finished product requires a process over two years long that only the expert hands of specialised craftsmen know. Expert hands like those of Domenico Giordano who, in the 1960s, transferred his skilful art from Calabria, land rich in heather shrubs, to the distant Liguria. Here, in Badalucco, in Valle Argentina, he founded the company of the same name “Giordano Pipe” in 1967.

Since then, Domenico Giordano has been followed a rigid preparation discipline. He personally chooses the heather roots to be processed that must be at least 25-30 years old because large pieces of wood are required. The briar-root extracted from the log is cleaned after the harvest so to remove any external agent (soil, moss) and stored in underground warehouses, sheltered from sun and wind, and kept constantly humidified.  After that, the next stage is the cutting, the rough-hewing in plaques and outlines sectioned following the briar-root texture and its typical veining. And here is the experience of the master sawyer who is able to get the most good quality pieces from each plaque valorising its natural veining. The outlines are boiled for 24 hours in large copper cauldrons. Purpose: melting the soil resins and tannins to remove any residual bitter taste and dry the lymph, avoiding wood breaking. The fourth stage of the process is the drying, which occurs first on trellises and after in jute sacks where they will remain for about two years. At this point, the outlines will be ready  for the carving and creation of the popular Giordano pipes.

[Ilaria Grigoletto]

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