Just a stone’s throw away from Florence’s busy Santa Maria Novella train station stands a 600-year-old pharmacy that started as an infirmary. This establishment is renowned for creating sweet-smelling elixirs and skincare products that draw customers from around the world. Beyond selling modern-day perfumes and cosmetics, Officina Profumo – Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella is a preserve of ancient monastic history and tradition. Read along to find out more about this unique, centuries-old pharmacy that may be the oldest in the world today.
From Humble Origins to Massive Popularity
Despite its immense popularity, Santa Maria Novella Pharmacy hasn’t always been prominent. Its first taste of glory came in the 16th century when it created a special scent called Acqua della Regina (Water of the Queen) to commemorate Catherine de’ Medici’s engagement to Henry II – the king of France in waiting. Although it’s been rechristened Acqua di Santa Maria Novella, this signature perfume is still available in its original composition.
The Antiquity of Florence’s Apothecary Well-Preserved in a Museum
To help conserve its rich history, the pharmacy has a small museum where it displays immaculately preserved artwork from when the establishment was still a church sacristy. The museum also houses antique apothecary jars, although the best antiques are already displayed in the store itself. A tour of the museum reveals the pharmacy’s antiquity in a city brimming with ancient landmarks.
A Hub for Great Customer Experiences
Nothing makes a commercial establishment thrive more than great customer service. This is one area where the pharmacy’s customer support team excels in.
They invite everyone to check out the long list of unique products offered at the store and can educate them about each product. They even help customers to choose the best product depending on their tastes and preferences.
Staff members aren’t only helpful but also treat people with the utmost respect. They know all too well that they work in a public space and not high-street shop where only customers that are immaculately dressed are welcome.
The importance of humility in everyday life can’t be overstated. If the Dominican friars that set up the store were still alive today, they’d be happy to see that the perform store in Santa Maria Novella keeps its doors open to everyone regardless of its grandly high-end demeanor.
What to Know Before Heading Out
Although it’s domiciled in a rather reticent building, this perfume store is one of the best attractions in Florence, Italy. It’s located on a low-traffic street, so it’s quite easy to walk right past it without noticing. Having the right address is crucial to successfully find this rare gem.