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.
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.