Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella

Via della Scala, 16, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy

Elevate the normally mundane experience of shopping for medicine-cabinet basics like soap and toothpaste with a visit to one of the oldest pharmacies in the world. In this 13th-century chapel with early Renaissance frescoes, Gothic carved wooden cabinets, and crystal chandeliers, most items are still crafted according to formulas originally created by Dominican monks. A small museum displays equipment once used to make Santa Maria Novella products, as well as a collection of beautifully painted ceramic jars that held the herbs and powders. Linger a little longer in this fragrant world by ordering a pot of herbal tea or a small glass of one of the historic liqueurs in the tearoom.

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Connecting with 400 Years of History in Florence, Italy

This centuries-old “pharmaceutical workshop” gives visitors a chance to experience part of Florence‘s unique bespoke heritage. It was established by Dominican monks of the adjacent Santa Maria Novella church around 1221 and opened to the public in 1612, exactly 400 years ago. Since then it has served the public by offering medicinal herbs, remedies, perfumes, and creams. Though the Dominican friars no longer run the pharmacy, it sells unique products that are connected with the past, and which use the same traditions and natural ingredients. The extraordinary interior, composed of three main rooms, is alone worth the stop. Visitors are not obligated to buy; instead, the interior is called a “museum of tradition,” and the staff are happy to explain the pharmacy’s history and products. Detailed information is also available in pamphlets visitors can pick up inside the main room. The pharmacy is open every day and is located behind Santa Maria Novella church on Via della Scala, 16. It is within easy walking distance of the train station and the Palazzo Vecchio area. It makes a great outing combined with a stop in Santa Maria Novella church to see its Renaissance masterpieces.

Fabulous fragrances

For fabulous room fragrances, head for the Antica Officina del Farmacista where Dr. Paolo Vranjes works his magic producing perfume essences inspired by Florence’s long, rich history.

Herbalist Shop in a 13th-Century Chapel

The Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella (to give its full name) is now a global brand, but this is where it all began, in a frescoed, 13th-century chapel in Florence. The place is as stunning as the products that are still made from ancient recipes and formulas invented by an order of Dominican monks, and a visit here is sure to end in a major dent in the credit card as it’s all so tempting. You will find aromatic lotions and potions, signature soaps (said to be the best in the world), room scents, smelling-salts, and that must-have item on any medieval Signora’s wish list: skin-whitening powder.

Santa Maria Novella Pharmacy

Occupying a stunning former pharmacy with a frescoed 13th-century chapel, this place is worth a visit even if you don’t buy anything. However, it’s hard to resist the bath oils, body lotions, face creams and skin tonics, which are still made according to the monks’ age-old recipes.

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