The Caminetto story began back in 1958 when Guiseppe "Peppino" Ascorti starts working at the iconic Castello factory. Very quickly Peppino moves up the ranks within the factory and became one of Castello’s finest carvers. Throughout this time Ascorti desired to be a self-employed, artisanal pipe maker. For years he saved and purchased the machinery, tools and briar needed to setup his own workshop. In 1968 he finally left Castello, followed closely by his neighbour and fellow talented employee, a young Luigi Radice.
The two began working in Peppinos workshop and caught the attention of Gianni Davoli a tobacconist from Milan. Davoli had contacts at home and in America, samples of the Ascorti & Radice pipes were sent and the response was excellent. The three got together and the Caminetto brand was formed. Davoli made reference of the pipes looking like chimney’s “Camini” and no one seems to know where the moustache & slogan ("La Pipa del Baffo" - "the pipe with the moustache") comes from.
Through Davolis contacts, Caminetto quickly became popular in America and Germany, with a strong cult status at home in Italy. This success soon saw the “I tre Camini" (the three chimneys) stretched to the limits of production, Cesare Vigano and others are taken on. Even Peppino’s eldest son Roberto was helping out after school, stamping and packing the pipes. From 1970 the annual output increased from 3000, 5000, 7000 and again they hit the limits of production. Davoli invested large sum of money into more modern machinery and ended up holding vast quantities of the company’s assets. Throughout the rest of the 1970’s Caminetto continued to produce high quality pipes and dominated the American market, compared to its Italian rivals.
By the end of the 1970s things turned a little sour between the three. Radice first complained about the factory production methods, it lacked room for any creative flair or styles and the level of production was starting to affect quality. While Ascorti agreed with Radice the two differed in their vision for Caminetto future. Due to Radice being only an employee, he had very little control over the situation. Then to top it all off, when Roberto had finished his military service, he wanted to join the factory full time. He had worked on repairs and also been experimenting with his own pipes. Davoli however didn’t want Ascorti and his son to hold too much influence and in 1979 it all went south. Complaints about quality and Castello sought legal action in regard the similarities between the Caminetto and Castello shapes.
By that December (79) Radice left, with no job to go to, just the desire to no longer be involved with Castello. He faced a hard time, but eventually found his feet as an independent pipe maker and is still considered as one of Italy’s finest carvers. Ascorti and Davoli ended up in a struggle for control of the company, the Ascorti family couldn’t afford to buy out Davoli, and so he too walked away.
Luckily for Guiseppe the workforce he had trained followed him and Ascorti was formed. Davoli was left with a large empty factory, all the machinery, materials and no pipe makers. The factory mysteriously burned to the ground not long after.
The Ascorti brand eventually got the rights to Caminetto back and these beautiful pipes are made using traditional techniques by none other than Cesare Vigano and Robert Ascorti. Every pipe is made by hand using aged briar and high quality acrylic rods.