Santa Maria Novella Pharmacy – 400 year old Shop in Florence
When you have walked yourself ragged around all of the amazing art galleries, villas and museums in glorious Florence, I hope you have time to visit something a little quirky but definitely worth the time and off the beaten track. The amazing 400 year old pharmacy, Santa Maria Novella or ‘Offucina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella’ still produces creams for the body and face, shampoos, conditioners, room fragrance etc., made from ancient recipes handed down from the Dominican monks. On via Della Scala, it is quite close to the train station and is like stepping into a time machine to walk back 400 years ago. The Dominican monks began cultivating herbs for medicinal purposes back in 1200 and opened a pharmacy to the public in 1612.
Ever wondered what exotic creams and perfumes were used by the rich, famous and notable of ancient Italy? In this wonderful time capsule you can try the very same perfume once used by the Queen of France, Catherine De Medici, who was born in Florence.
The most interesting product, and still in production today, is an aromatic vinegar called ‘The Vinegar of Seven Thieves. The vinegar was produced during the terrible plague (or Black Death) of around 1348 in Florence where nearly two thirds of the population were said to have perished. The essence was used by thieves to steal from the ill without being infected with the disease – or so they say. (Don’t know quite how that worked out for them). Today this vinegar is used for a room freshener and tonic.
Buy these products at Franque in Melbourne
When returning from Italy my luggage is invariably filled to the brim with Italian items I can’t purchase in Australia, so I was pleasantly surprised when I realised that my favourite body cream is available in Melbourne, just 2 kms away! Franque, a lovely shop in Armadale is an agent for Santa Maria Novella Pharmacy so it’s now all available right here. Hooray! More room in my luggage for other items from Italy.
Franque is online at www.franque.com.au