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Santa Maria Novella

Eight centuries of liquors and scented essences
Region Toscana (Italia)
Foundation Year 1221
Address Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella, Via Reginaldo Giuliani, 143 - 50141 Firenze

The Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella is a true institution in the city of Florence and represents an important piece of the history of essence processing, a true treasure of ancient craftsmanship. Its foundation dates back to 1221. In that year, a dozen Dominican friars arrived in Florence from Bologna and settled in the Church of Santa Maria tra le Vigne, which at the time was outside the city walls. The new Basilica, named precisely Santa Maria Novella, was built starting in 1242 and became the new seat of the convent of the Dominican order in the city of Florence. The history of the perfume workshop will forever remain linked to the monks and these places.

The Dominican monks brought their centuries-old heritage of knowledge to the new home of the Florentine convent. Custodians of culture since the fall of the Roman Empire, the Monasteries had become a center of preservation and dissemination, not only of religion, but also of the sciences and liberal arts. In 1332 Dominican monks cured and healed a famous Florentine merchant using an extract of Uva Orsina, a wild plant that produces small red berries. Their mastery in the use of botanicals became famous in the city. The monks thus began to produce a number of medicinal preparations, including perfumed waters and in particular Acqua di Rose, created to sanitize the body and environments at the time of the Black Death of 1381.

Such was the monks' fame that when Catherine de' Medici moved to Paris, she also wanted a master perfumer from the convent of Santa Maria Novella with her. In 1542 the convent pharmacy of Santa Maria Novella became a separate entity from the monastic order and opened its doors to the citizenry. In 1612, the lay activity of the Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella officially began, thus becoming an entity in its own right and a point of reference for medical and alchemical practices in the area. After four centuries, it still produces perfumery products, elixirs and monastic specialties of excellent quality.