The Man Behind the Cigar
It began with
committed parents, a nurturing home, a value system and a work ethic.
Dreams fulfilled are not
accidental, coincidences or luck. They are
through parenting, education, hard work and passion.
From such dreams comes a Renaissance man, a complex individual, a man of many passions - Giacomo Guggino.
He came from first-generation Americans of Sicilian heritage, born in 1940 in the cigar capital of the world, Ybor City and wasraised in West Tampa. His roots were divided between the rich history of Ybor and the quaintness of West Tampa.
His father worked 40 years with the Seaboard Air Line Railroad and his mother an equal number of years with the Santaella and Garcia y Vega cigar factories.
They sent their son to private schools, including St. Joseph Grammar School, Jesuit High School, the University of Tampa and the University of Miami Medical School.
Giacomo is an accomplished pediatric eye surgeon in his hometown of Tampa, Florida. His interests include cooking, football and boxing. The second floor of the Guggino Family Eye Center houses a professional kitchen that is the envy of professional chefs, many of whom have cooked with Giacomo.
He served as the eye physician for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for 20 years and as Ringside Physician and Commissioner for the Florida State Athletic Commission for 16 years.
On missions of mercy to La Victoria in the Dominican Republic, he screened patients for and treated, ocular diseases.
Following graduation from medical school he interned at Tampa General Hospital and served four years with the United States Public Health Service in Staten Island New York. There he did a year of general surgery, two years of ophthalmology research and a year of residency. He completed his residency in ophthalmology at the George Washington University and completed a year of pediatric ophthalmology at the National Children's Medical Center in Washington, DC.
He opened his private practice of pediatric ophthalmology in 1974 as a solo practitioner. Since then the practuce has grown from 1,500 to 10,000 square feet with five physicians, a support staff of 35, an operating room and an optical facility.
Today he continues his life's passion for pediatric ophthalmic surgery.
Giacomo is married to the former Judith M. Gayzik. Together they have two sons, Joseph. an attorney and Steven, an emergency room physician. They have five grandchildren.
My interest in and respect for the tobacco industry was forged at an early age. I could see how much my mother would sacrifice for my sister and me working in a hot, non-air-conditioned cigar factory. She was a valuable employee, fast, accomplished and rolled Churchills. My dad worked for the Seaboard Coast Airline Railroad as a painter on a two-man gang for 40 years. His work was also visible and inspiring. It's hard to imagine that on their incomes they put me and my sister Rosann through college, and then me through medical school.
I remember so well the countless times my mom would leave for work early in the morning and come home dusted with tobacco and signs of perspiration. I can still smell the aroma of the Cuban leaf tobacco. The unique aroma smelled like a woodsy flower with a smooth and earthy tone.
My curiosity in the cigar was satisfied one day when my mother and my paternal grandmother purchased some Cuban leaf and brought it home. Working with family members who also worked in cigar factories, they rolled cigars for my cigar smoking uncles.
I was 12 at the time. I collected the necessary materials, sequestered myself in an inconspicuous place and rolled my first cigar.
Then I smoked my first cigar. It was awful. I became so sick, especially after my uncle Tony convinced me to inhale the smoke and blow it out my nose.
Giacomo did not pick up another cigar until he attended college.
Occasionally I would fire up a cigar and enjoy time with friends.
About the time I opened my practice, I met Bill Diaz, owner of Williams House Ltd. We became friends and I learned quite a bit about the tobacco industry, especially the curing of the tobacco leaf.
About four years ago my interest in the cigar increased even more. I began frequenting Edward's pipe and tobacco. I ran into the best palates in the city. My times there were like seminars and clinics. As aficionados we tried different cigars, discussed their attributes and weaknesses ... yes we are a critical bunch.
The market offers an incredible number of excellent cigars. Yet I desired something from my childhood memory of the Cuban leaf and the aroma it produced. I envisioned a full to medium bodied cigar, a rich aroma, an even burn, excellent construction and a complex taste."
I consulted an old high school friend, tobacco icon John Oliva (CEO of Oliva Tobacco Company). Together we blended, sampled, blended and sampled over and again. At last we were satisfied."
"The Giacomo" includes five different aged tobaccos. The foreign tobaccos from Nicaragua, Honduras, the Dominican Republic and Ecuador are all Cuban seed.
The cigar band includes a photo of a railroad crossing in honor of my dad and a cigar cutter in honor of my mother. The Giacomo series includes the Churchill, Torpedo, Robusto, Lancero and the Corona .
The pleasures and treasures in life often include a cigar. A combination of food, wine, your favorite cigar and especially your friends is a symphony beyond description.
Whatever cigar you enjoy, and even if you don't partake in the ritual, be sure to enjoy the rest of the treasures of life.
Giacomo has summed it up well.
Giacomo has managed to balance his life with his family, profession, passions and friends.
e Man Behind the Giacomo Cigar
888.410.4380 • 3115 Swann Ave, Tampa, FL 33609 • Giacomo's Cigars LLC