The Encuentro Amigos de Partagás, meanwhile known beyond the borders of Italy, will take place from July 4 to 7, 2018. Cigar Journal spoke with Francesco Minetti, who organizes the event, and is presenting the program for 2018.
Encuentro Amigos de Partagás 2018 Program
Wednesday, July 4
Evening: Welcome cocktail and concert
Thursday, July 5
Day: Champagne, rum, and cigar tasting seminars; sensory seminar on tobacco
Evening: Fiesta Campesina: Country party amidst vineyards on a farm
Friday, July 6
Day: Pool party or basic seminar on cigar tasting; Champagne, rum, and cigar tasting seminars; cigar-rolling seminar
Evening: Fiesta Cubana with live music and live show
Saturday, July 7
Day: Official reception by the City Contest in the course of a blind tasting for selected participants; Champagne, rum, and cigar tasting seminars; cigar-rolling seminar
Evening: Gala dinner on the piazza with music, prize ceremony, and dancing
Detailed information and registration at: www.amigosdepartagas.it
Cuba’s cigar festivals are legendary. But Europeans who don’t want to fly across the Atlantic but still wish to celebrate Cuban cigars just have to go to Matelica in Italy. For four days, the scent of cigars wafts through the lanes and alleyways of the pretty Old Town. Particularly when the Encuentro Amigos de Partagás is being held.
It’s through Francesco Minetti, president of both the umbrella organization of the Italian Cigar Club Association and Cigar Club Matelica, that the threads of this unique format come together. And if you haven’t been yet, you’ll hardly believe what you’re reading here. On a long weekend in July, the little city of Matelica, with a population of just under 10,000, offers cigar smokers its hospitality. Various events take place in the secluded inner courtyard of the municipal museum, and the theater also opens its gates. For the closing gala, even the piazza is closed. You dine and smoke “all’aperto” (outdoors) in front of the picturesque backdrop of the medieval town. But how is this possible, and how did this outlier come about in the age of all these smoking bans?
Cigar Journal: Francesco, when did this festival start?
FRANCESCO MINETTI: We started celebrating the Encuentro Amigos de Partagás in Matelica in 2005. That is, in 2018 it will be the thirteenth time. It had already been established before, but it took place in Cuba.
Cigar Journal: Just how could it turn into such a hot spot for fans of Cuban cigars?
FRANCESCO MINETTI: At first, the festival lasted just one day, and two or three Cubans from the cigar scene in Cuba came. In 2010, we extended the Encuentro to two days. But we noticed that the guests arrived earlier, and so then it became three. In the meantime, it’s four.
Cigar Journal: You’re all working professionals; there’s no fixed staff that organizes this huge event. How do you manage it?
FRANCESCO MINETTI: Everybody from Cigar Club Matelica helps – we have 110 members. We start early with the organizing and planning, and the city council supports us. We’re allowed to use the town’s edifices.
Cigar Journal: What is your core concept?
FRANCESCO MINETTI: We want to create a good balance between in-depth further education, which we o er in top-professional seminars during the festival, and at the same time, fun, enjoyment, and pleasure. is we o er at our evening events. Every year, there are new aspects; other seminars; the program is never the same.
Cigar Journal: How many people attend the Encuentro Amigos de Partagás?
FRANCESCO MINETTI: In 2017, over the four days, we had a total of 2,500 guests from 30 nations; 60 Italian cigar clubs were represented. Apart from that, each year we get a visit from a top-class Cuban delegation. Around 15 people come, all from the eld of cigars or rum, and they impart their specialist knowledge with the visitors.