Officina Profumo – Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella is one of the world's oldest pharmacies. First founded in 1221 in Florence by the Dominican Friars who started making herbal remedies and 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 and 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 and bergamot scented water constantly and 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 and 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 and 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 amoung 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 and removing make-up or for scenting linens. The Pot-Pourri with its pungeant, spicy scent, is still hand made and 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 and soften delicate skin. And of course the Santa Maria Novella fragrances themselves; classic scents like Honeysuckle, Rose and Iris, exotics such as Patchouli, Marescialla and Calycanthus, and, romantics like Jasmine, Violet and Lily of the Valley.
Today, the Pharmacy is run under the direction of Eugenio Alfandery, a gentleman who has kept the tradition and legacy of Santa Maria Novella intact while at the same time updating the centuries old methods and procedures that are the mainstay of the reputation of this great brand. Some of the more recent offerings are the re-release of the Toscano Cologne and Toscano Soap, the Nostalgia Fragrance the Angels of Florence Fragrance, the Aetus Saubris Regernative Face Care Collection and the special Dog and Cat Grooming Collection. These newer offerings keep to the same Santa Maria Novella philosophy of quality and precision, all while mixing old world formulations and expertise with the modern mastery of current technology.
Santa Maria Novella products are made on site at their own factory in Florence. Local ingredients are used whenever possible and the products are never tested on animals. Each batch is hand made and supervised according to age old recipes and artisanal methods. All batches are rigorously controlled using strict guidelines to ensure consistency of product and maximum safety for the consumer.