Pick of the Week: The Fragrances of Santa Maria Novella

When it comes to selecting the perfect fragrance, quality is everything. It takes the perfect balance of precise ingredients to create a scent that is unique, flattering & lasting. Officina Profumo – Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella is one of the world's oldest pharmacies - they've been around since the 13th century, in fact - so we're pretty sure they know a thing or two about fragrances by now. Keep reading below to find out more about their amazing history...

The old pharmacy
The Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella was founded in 1221 in Florence by the Dominican Friars who started making herbal remedies & potions to use in the monastery. Their reputation became world renowned and the pharmacy, sponsored by the Grand Duke of Tuscany, opened to the public in 1612. 

Many of Santa Maria Novella’s products have become a part of history: the world famous pot-pourri is still hand crafted in large terra cotta vats using local essences & plants as has 
been the tradition since the 1200’s. The first “Eau de Cologne” has been attributed to the pharmacy’s creation in the 1500’s of Catherine de Medeci’s “Water of the Queen.” She used the citrus & bergamot scented water constantly & gave it to all of her closest friends during her reign as the Queen of France. It’s popularity in France lasted into the 18th century whereupon a certain Italian, Giovanni Feminis, took it with him to Cologne & began to make it there, renaming it Acqua di Cologne or Eau de Cologne as a tribute to the city where it was produced. Today this refreshing mix uses the same original formula from the time of Catherine de Medeci & is simply called Santa Maria Novella. It is Santa Maria Novella’s Signature Fragrance and surely the most sought after of all of their scents. 

Some of the oldest products from Santa Maria Novella are among the most popular today. The Almond Paste is an excellent rich cream made from almond butter. The Rose Water can be used on the face for washing & removing make-up or for scenting linens. The Pot-Pourri with its pungent, spicy scent, is still hand made & left to ferment in large terra cotta jars. The Milky Soaps, scented with Santa Maria Novella’s own fragrances are made with whole milk to protect & soften delicate skin. And of course the Santa Maria Novella fragrances themselves; classic scents like Honeysuckle, Rose & Iris, exotics such as Patchouli, Marescialla & Calycanthus, &, romantics like Jasmine, Violet & Lily of the Valley.

Today, the Pharmacy is run under the direction of Eugenio Alfandery, a gentleman who has kept the tradition & legacy of Santa Maria Novella intact, while at the same time updating the centuries old methods & procedures that are the mainstay of the reputation of this great brand.

An early 20th-century photograph of the old distillery

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