The Officina Profumo Pharmacy of Santa Maria Novella is a true “chef d’œuvre” and for sure can be proud of their 400 years of tradition.
The oldest and most prestigious pharmacy in the world was created by Dominican monks in 1221. At the time, they developed medicines and creams made with herbs for use in the infirmary of a small Italian monastery near Florence.
Most of their products today are created with the same formulas and methods invented all those centuries ago.
One of their most famous products is the formula Pot-Pourri, created in 1348 and used at the time as an antiseptic to combat the terrible plague that was surrounding Europe.
The Pot-Pourri uses the same secret formula made from a combination of herbs and flowers that are grown and harvested in the Tuscan hills. Each batch is collected manually and then dipped into huge centuries-old earthenware jars, sealed with wax and after that the mixture is aged for several months before being carefully packaged one by one.
The shop in Florence also houses a Museum
In 1533 Catherine de Medici was only 14 years old and newly married to the future king of France when she ordered a perfume that gave rise to the famous ‘Acqua della Regina “or” Water of the Queen’, the first Eau de Cologne of the world.
The composition consists of satsuma essences, citrus, white flowers and exotic spices and it is still on the market as one of their most popular scents of Santa Maria Novella.
In 1612 the monks opened their first store that would sell to anyone without being directed only to royalty. Since then the brand has become well known worldwide for the quality of their products for body, face and fine fragrances.
Among others the ‘Pasta di Mandorle was the first product created by Dominican friars known for the healing effect and rejuvenating properties helping the younger appearance of the skin.
Ancient preparations and royal prestige
Certainly the Dominican friars did not expect their mixture to be such an absolute success, recognized in so many different parts of the world. It all began with Catherine De Medici and today other clients give continuity to the tradition as Princess Caroline, the princess of Monaco, the Actress Catherine Zeta Jones, Hillary Clinton… And more!….for example, Carla Bruni Sarkozy uses Melograno body milk to hydrate her body, Giovanna Battaglia, Fashion Editor who always travels with his “L’eau de Rose”, Delfina Delettrez, bijoux designer for Fendi who can not live without ut’ L’acqua di Gigli ” that has a refreshing and calming effect.
Last but not least, Angelina Jolie, loves almond oil soaps and scented candles. And something for men – don’t forget James Bond using ‘L’acqua di Colonia Melograno
A real luxury and the best… affordable!!
Santa Maria Novella at their Piccadilly, London shop
Where to find?
In London the best place is Piccadilly Arcade in London, SW1Y 6NH
otherwise you can also find in Europe:
- Florence: Via della Scala, 16 – 50123 (store & Museum)
- Rome: Corso Rinascimento, 47 00186 Roma
- Paris: Rue de la Paix, 1
- Barcelona: C/ Espaseria, 4 08003 Barcelona