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Santa Maria Novella

We are proud to carry the products of the Antique Pharmacy Santa Maria Novella of Florence

A bit of history. . .

The Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella is the oldest pharmacy in Europe.  The pharmacy complex, located in Piazza Santa Maria Novella, adjacent to the homonymous Basilica, is a beautiful and refined architectural environment with vaulted ceilings and frescos. It is considered a monument in its own right and is visited by thousands of tourists each year.
Founded by Dominican friars shortly after 1221, the pharmacy, located within the monastery, used medicinal herbs grown in the monastic gardens to make medications, balms and pomades for the monks’ infirmary.

The fame of the Officina began to spread well beyond the walls of the city of Florence after Catherine de Medici, the daughter of a Florentine ruler who became queen of France in 1547, commissioned the Dominican monks of Santa Maria Novella to create a signature scent for her. The monks had the intuition to use alcohol instead of mixing it with oil or vinegar, as was the custom then. “Acqua Della Regina” produced by Santa Maria Novella for Catherine De Medici was the first European perfume to use alcohol. The citrus-based scent became popular at the French court, under the name “Santa Maria Novella” it continues to be a bestseller today.

Until a few years ago all production took place within the historical premises at Piazza Santa Maria Novella. Now the Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella manufactures its products in its facilities in Via Reginaldo Giuliani, just three kilometers from the pharmacy complex, still well within the city of Florence. Specially designed and built equipment is used that combines modern technology with ancient production methods. There is a lot of “hand-made” in the products even today.

The majority of the medicinal herbs used in its products are grown locally on the hills around Florence and in the Officina’s own garden. Tropical ingredients such as patchouli and sandalwood are imported; otherwise all possible inputs and products that can be made locally are made locally; from the soaps, liquors, colognes, and essences, right down to the labels, stationery and bags.

The Officina manufactures many products according to ancient and secret recipes, which have been the sole property of the Officina for centuries. With Engineer Eugenio Alphandery at the helm –an elegant, charming and intelligent personality– Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella both perpetuates and innovates the ancient traditions of herbal medicine and body care using only natural raw materials of the highest quality. Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella focuses exclusively on the herbalists art, basing all its preparations on traditional herbs and oils of natural origin.