Florence: A Gothic Cathedral of Lotions and Potions

NOTE: The following is an excerpt from The Globetrotter’s Get-Gorgeous Guide: Diet and Beauty Secrets of Travel and Beauty Pros, Traveling Executives, and Celebrity Travelers. (Outskirts Press).

Author Debbi Kickham, a former editor at The Robb Report and Bridal Guide magazines, describes the book as Allure meets Travel & Leisure meets Born to Shop.

“You know how some people travel the world to discover regional foods?” she asks. “I scour the planet to stock up on local, indigenous beauty products.”

Here’s what she uncovered in Florence, Italy.

The original Santa Maria Novella apothecary is in Florence (the oldest continually-open and most prestigious pharmacy in the world) and is almost 800 years old, having been established by the Dominican Fathers shortly after 1221.

The products that customers find in this pharmacy have a long and illustrious history. Take the Santa Maria Novella Eau de Cologne signature scent (a mix of citrus and bergamot first concocted by the monks at Santa Maria Novella). This is a classic cologne with a citrus base, which was created for Catherine de Medici, who, when she went to France to marry Henry II, brought her personal perfume-maker with her.

In fact, there are various versions of the legend that explain how the “Acqua della Regina” (Water of the Queen) came to be commercialized as a cologne. Still hand-formulated in Florence, this remarkably light and fresh scent combines the provocative citrus and bergamot with subtle white flowers and deeply exotic spices. Coveted by men and women alike, it’s a unique aroma that’s timeless and perfectly modern, and includes rosewater made by roses grown by Santa Maria Novella in their own gardens outside of the city. In fact, all of the products at Santa Maria Novella are made with indigenous ingredients and crafted on-site.

Bestseller: The handmade, handstamped pomegranate soap, as well as the Gardenia-and Rose Body Milk, Lemon Hand Cream, Almond Foot Cream, and classic 100-gram bag of Signature Potpourri.

Interesting Fact: The delectable goods of Santa Maria Novella were brought to the United States exclusively by LAFCO New York (Luxury Articles & Fragrance Company). Today there are official SMN boutiques in New York, Bal Harbour, and Melrose Place, along with the products being available at the LAFCO boutique in Dallas.


  • My gosh, you could sell anything in there and it would seem like a luxury. Gorgeous!