Pue Tip: Pharmacia Santa Maria Novella, Florence


Searching from the famous piazza of Santa Maria Novella and the church of the same name, I almost passed it without noticing. Only the small sober, but chic shop window announces the fragrances, cosmetics and herbals of Officina Profumo - Pharmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella. Entering the shop, made a big impression, and that’s what I like most about one of my favorite cities, Firenze…..

You never know what you will find behind a closed door, and that is the fun in Florence. I have visited the city many times, and almost every time I discover new things, from pallazzo’s and art from the famous Medici family, to romantic private gardens or culinary markets and cuisines. It is a treat! Again, I did not know what to expect here on Via Della Scala 16, and it was like stepping into another world, another time. The entrance is impressing with murmur colorful floors, high ceilings and classic Roman pillars. Arriving at the center of the shop, the selling room, it is like visiting a rich chapel. Actually it is quite logical, because this is one of the oldest pharmacies in the world, established in 1612 by Dominican monks. It used to be a monastery, including a sacristy of the former chapel of Niccolo. Today it is also a museum (for tours make a reservation) and the back of the complex crosses the famous church. The spirit of history breathes through this impressing complex, with high ancient pharmacy cabinets, beautiful ceiling paintings, a classic tearoom and a traditional flower corner.

The monks, who created highly quality formulas, are based on natural raw materials and herbs. At first these were used for medical porpoises, later on developed as cosmetic products and other preparations. The political context and connection between the Dominicans and the Medici family (Cosimo I and Ferdinand II) during the 16th and 17th century, gave the Pharmacia a boost. During the centuries different people managed to keep the tradition of the so-called ‘Royall Highness Foundry’ alive, adding new elements to the tradition of the brand.
And yes, you really want to smell, sense and experience al these beautiful products, such as the classic Pot-pouri, with herbs and flowers of the Tuscan hills macerated in terracotta jars. Or sense the Acqua di Rose, the classic rose water for cosmetic use. And how about the Sapone al Melograno, soap for delicate skin. And try different Eau de colognes. It is a treat, because they all have a very explicit smell. My favorite is Angeles of Florence and I love the Jojoba Skin oil! No doubt to leave the building without a special souvenir and longing to come back to this unique place.

More information about the products and history: smnovella.com
Notice: There are many different stores of SM Novella in Europe (London, Moscow, Paris, Madrid, Cannes, Barcelona, a.o), the U.S.A. (LA, NY, Bal Harbour), in Cape Town, Asia (Hong Kong, Osaka, Tokyo, Seoul, Bangkok a.o.) and Melbourne. But the most beautiful and ancient shop is in Firenze.

Angelique van Os

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