Mario Lubinski, the Italian distributor for Peterson, has been intimately involved in their production decisions for years. Italy just might be their largest market. He is responsible for many Italy exclusive designs, as noted in some of the Peterson fan web sites.Even Peterson sends pipes to them that I've never seen anywhere else.
The only shop with a web presence that I know of that won't ship Castellos to the US is Novelli. The owner of Novelli is also the official distributor for the US and of course sells to US retailers. He chooses not to compete with themA couple stores I've seen don't ship Castello's to the US; don't know why.
More like they know what not to send him, but I have heard stories that he does examine the high grade smooths individually. His father was a shop owner and from at least the mid 70's on, they (later just Mario) were involved in pipe production. Most notably, they were the first distributor for Mastro de Paja. He has financed (and likely still does) briar costs for carvers whose products he distributes,and is a major player in wood and leather pipe and cigar accessories under his own name in Italy and any number of other brand names in other countries. He knows pipes. I would never try to get away with sending him anything but my best. If I were in the market for anything beyond an entry level Peterson, I would buy it from an Italian shop.I wonder if Mario Lubinski hand selects each individual pipe that goes into Italy, as I haven't heard anyone complain from a badly drilled or made Peterson from Italy.