Founded in 1221 (the time of Giotto and Dante) by Dominican Monks, the Officia Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella is one of the oldest pharmacies in the world. Initially making mostly herbal remedies for their infirmary, the monks created wondrous tonics and elixirs, eventually experimenting with the manufacture of perfumes and essences – key to winning the allegiance of their most famous customer, Catherine de’ Medici. Born in Florence in 1519, she famously became the bride of Henry, Duke of Orleans, future King of France. She proved legendary both for her political intrigues and her love of novelty. She is credited with promoting, in the French Court, innovations ranging from the sidesaddle to the handkerchief – even tobacco. The pharmacy created a new fragrance for her, a perfume that became known as acqua della regina, or “water of the queen”.
The manufacture of the products continues today in a small factory two miles away, where the monk’s ancient techniques have been streamlined, but where much of the manufacturing continues to be done by hand. The factory can turn out only 500 bars of soap a day in any one of 25 varieties; each bar is then aged for a month before being chiseled by hand into its final shape. The modern line is now quite extensive and ranges from eau de Cologne to men’s shaving products, soaps, herbal and antique preparations.
Flawless, unmistakable, and painstakingly handcrafted, this product will make you feel and look like royalty.
at 12:22 AM