Friday, March 22, 2013

The Miracle of Ascoli

There is a small town in the Marches province of Italy called Ascoli Piceno. It is a beautiful, historic little city, graced with a central square in the middle of which is a fountain.

In 1909 Ferdinando Paoletti, his wife and daughter made the trip from Italy to the United States.  As family lore has it, when they arrived either his wife Mariantonia or his daughter Carolina had developed a severe cough, and was denied entry. Mariantonia and Carolina returned to Italy, presumably to await Ferdinando raising enough money to send for them again. They returned in 1912 through Philadelphia, and reunited at last the couple went on to build a life for themselves in Wilmington, Delaware.

It was here that their son Nicholas was born. Stationed in Georgia during his service in the Army Air Corps he met and married his wife, and this is where the story, for me, really begins.

I have always believed everything happens for a reason, that somehow there are few things in life that are unordained, and that the patient soul is always rewarded.

I grew up about 20 miles from Wilmington, attended High School in Elkton, Maryland, and had a pretty ordinary experience there. Of all the 220 people in my graduating class there were few I interacted with. I was shy, studious, and more inclined to sit at home and read a book or paint than date, or attend parties.

Move ahead 4 decades. As our 40th class reunion approached a few classmates made a concerted effort to reconnect many of us through Facebook. I happily accepted friend requests, but since our reunion fell on the weekend of our annual cigar festival it was certain I would not attend. The weekend before, however, I was scheduled to make an appearance at a small wine and food festival.

On a hot and sunny Sunday afternoon, as I sat on a dock along the Susquehanna River, I was approached by a beautiful woman who looked vaguely familiar. As it turned out, we had gone to the same High School, had no classes together, and as far as I can recall if we had ever even spoken it was only a few times. On September 9th that all changed in a wonderful way.

We spoke for perhaps a half hour, and I found her deeply intriguing. She had noticed the announcement of the event, and though she initially had decided to make the hour drive there threatening weather almost changed her mind. Cajoled by her sister to just go ahead and make the trip, there before me she was.

As she moved to head home, in an uncharacteristiclly brash way, I asked her to dinner. A few days later we met at a restaurant near her home, near the city if her birth, and the place she had returned to after graduation. Were it not for her taking that drive on that particular day chances are we would never have encountered each other again.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Today I am pleased to announce the forthcoming release of "Mia Dora" by Emilio Cigars, dedicated to the beautiful woman I love.  Manufactured in Esteli, Nicaragua by my dear friend Abdel Fernandez, the cigars, featuring a Habano Rosado wrapper and Nicaraguan filler, will be released in July, 2013 at IPCPR in Las Vegas.

The decorative art for the bands and boxes will feature themes and colors from the flag of Ascoli Piceno, the city in which a young family made the bold decision over 100 years ago to ultimately deliver an angel to me.

I love you Dora Paoletti Lilly . This is my gift to you, in my own way, in the art form I know best.


  1. And judging by your adoration of this lady, this will be one phenomenal cigar.
    Looking forward to it.

  2. Great story Gary. I'm looking forward to the new blend!

  3. Gary, Gary, Gary. This is an absolutely wonderful post. Dora is a phenomenal woman, and i know from meeting both of you at riverside a month back. I'm pleased to say that I'm patiently waiting to get my hands on one of these cigars. Your adoration for each other was immense as you both shared yourselves with us that evening. I got to learn a lot about both of you, just buy listening, as well as watching the small things you guys did with each other, like holding hands, or listening to fully to what the other had to say. If this cigar holds any meaning to what Mia Dora is to you, Gary, then this may be your best Cigar yet. I'm glad i got to meet you, and I'm happy to know that everything is just wonderful for you.

    Cigar Fan & Friend
    Ryan Kelley