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Officina Profumo di Santa Maria Novella

Phanciest Pharmacy in Phlorence

Perfume bottles

Founded by the Dominicans sometimes after 1220, the Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella, to give it its proper name, may be the oldest pharmacy in Europe.

In the 1600s it was opened to the pubic, and by the next century it had a reputation, they say that extended all the way to China. In 1866, it was taken over by the state, but since then has been owned and run by the descendants of the nephew of the last apothecary monk Cesare Augusto Stefani.

It still produces many of its ancient potions in the works on Via Reginaldo Giuliani, north of the centre, using medicinal herbs grown in the hills of Florence and beyond: Acqua della Regina, a perfume created for Caterina de 'Medici, the Queen of France and Alkermes, a drink made with quinine, alkermes and chocolate, and Eau de Cologne, invented by one of the apothecaries in 1725 who moved to Germany and named it after his adopted city.

Even if you aren't in the market for any of its goodies, have a look at its elegantly frescoed sales room and the small museum with some of the original ceramic pots etc; the oldest surviving one dates back to the 16th century.

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Via della Scala 16

Hours 10am—8pm

Adm Free


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Text © Dana Facaros & Michael Pauls

Image by Roving-Aye!