Renaissance Man Giuliano Belle Inspires Us to Live Our Passion

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“When passion meets obsession, that’s where Magic Happens.”

Artist, cigar enthusiast, and modern-day Renaissance Man Giuliano Belle has built a life fueled by passion. Born in Southern Italy, Giuliano began traveling by the age of 16 and eventually settled in Los Angeles. “Once I landed in the United States, I stopped globe-hopping,” he says. Because I’m fascinated by those who have mastered the elusive ideal of being guided by their passions, I asked Giuliano, who currently creates magnificent metal sculptures from his studio in Los Angeles, if he would chat with me after I watched a beautiful documentary about him and his love of cigars and specifically, Cuba. 

Filmed and produced for Carnival Cruises, the “Go Cuba” short captures not only the culture, vibrance, and spirit of the island, but also Giuliano’s undeniable charm and love of living. In it, one of the first things Giuliano says struck me and became the cornerstone of my chat with him: “When passion meets obsession, that’s where magic happens.” This sentence pretty much sums up my life’s work…I have spent the better part of my life creating businesses out of my passions and helping others turn their passions into viable realities…yet I haven’t been able to articulate it in such a succinct way. And Giuliano nailed it. 

“I always wanted to understand what makes you go to the next level of being absolutely brilliant.”

“That is pretty much my creed,” he says. “I always try to understand what it takes to go to another level of craziness. Da Vinci, Van Gogh…they have been magnificent people in our history and I always wanted to understand what makes you go to the next level of being absolutely brilliant.”

“When you’re passionate about something…when you truly obsess about your art, or whatever you do, you start making masterpieces. When passion and obsession collide, that’s when something magical truly happens. For me, I see it in cigars, and in art.”

“Think about it, this guy for whatever reason,” Giuliano refers to Van Gogh, “He cuts off his ear! I mean, that’s got to be truly crazy. And the list goes on and on. Throughout history, all of these masters, they almost all did something absolutely insane. So I understand that true brilliance comes from that obsessive passion.”

For Giuliano, he talks about cigars in the same way one would imagine Da Vinci or Van Gogh would talk about their art. It’s a part of who he is, and you can see his whole body beam when talking about tobacco, the craft, the care, and the history. “In the beginning, I loved cigars, I saw the band around it, the box. Then I started digging and investigating what it takes to make a fantastic cigar. I discovered that the more I thought I knew, the more I understood I didn’t know. I think this applies to so many things…you find something that you are interested in and think you know about it, and then you learn that you’re really at the beginning of this journey.” He goes on to tell me about tobacco leaves, the regions in Cuba, the combinations, the flavors, and how to properly enjoy a cigar.

“I discovered that the more I thought I knew, the more I understood I didn’t know.”

Giuliano moved to Cuba for two years to immerse himself in the culture of cigar making. The most surprising part of the process? “I lived on a farm in Pinal Del Rio. I really needed to understand why their tobacco is so beautiful. And I’m not kidding, these farmers…they sing to the moon. At first, I was like, ‘What is going on?'” he chuckles. “But then I saw the passion in these farmers and the dedication. I saw the love they had. And in their own way right there, I saw the combination of love and obsession. And these cigars are completely out of this world.”

While he has made his home back in Los Angeles, Giuliano still travels to Cuba a few times each year and is still learning. “Every time I go, there is a little more that I learn about the cigar business, the tobacco, the seeds, the blending. It’s truly a science.”

His latest passion-slash-obsession? His art. The accomplished sculptor takes me on a virtual tour of his studio. “My art is part of what I am. It is what I have went through, it is what I go through every day. It really comes from within me…there is a lot of feelings attached to all of them.”

“I can see myself dealing in cigars and practicing my art for the next 80 years. There is no limit, there is no age limit to me pursuing these passions. When I weld, it’s usually at night, I put on some music, I have a little mezcal. I just love it and it keeps me extremely young.”

I came away from my chat with Giuliano with a bit more knowledge about cigars, Cuba, and an appreciation for the beauty in metal work and welding. Moreover, I am inspired by Giuliano’s commitment to knowledge and truly living in the present and honoring his passions. Clearly, this obsession-driven kind of passion has provided a life for Giuliano that is fulfilling, successful, and ultimately happy.

“We all need to be passionate about something,” he says. “Even if you believe you don’t have the time. You have to have that spirit come out and manifest itself. You just have to start and let the passion consume you.”

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