Fodor's Expert Review Fábrica de Tabacos Francisco Donatien
This traditional cigar factory, in a stately, colonnaded building that was the city jail until 1961, offers a more intimate visit than some of the major Havana cigar factories. You can watch a Montecristo in the making, as a guide explains the process. In a long, high-ceilinged hall, mostly young men—sporting trendy, shaved hair-dos—sit at old-fashioned, wooden tables, carefully destemming aged tobacco leaves, which look like thin strips of leather, then slowly rolling layers of different tobacco. The rolls are placed in plastic molds, pressed, then tested with an air compressor for the right consistency. You might hear the lector (reader) entertain the cigar rollers by reading newspaper articles from Granma or novels, but it's more likely you'll hear popular music from a radio. You purchase your ticket in the air-conditioned Casa del Habano across the street, where you can also buy cigars and souvenir humedors. No cameras are allowed in the cigar factory.