As far back as medieval times the monks cultivated Balsamite or costmary, a plant whose rich properties have always been recognized.
They used it to make Santa Maria Novella Water and Lozenges following Fra Angiolo Marchissi’s formulas of 1612.
Today these herbs are grown organically and still harvested when their balsamic properties are at their peak, at the end of June, beginning of July.
Traditionally the best day for harvest was St. John’s day which falls on June 24th.
Production is now carried out on Liberty style premises on Via Reginaldo Giuliani, in the north of Florence about 3 km from the head office on Via della Scala. All the products are made here with equipment that has been specially designed and custom-built for each specific purpose.
Each product has a peculiar story, for example the Cologne and Pot pourri, two of the company’s distinguishing products.
THE PHARMACEUTICAL WORKSHOP OF SANTA MARIA NOVELLA
The Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella was established here in 1612.
Entrance to the ancient pharmacy was from the main cloister, through a splendid doorway designed by Matteo Nigetti with a conch-shaped pediment in the center of which is a small pharmacy jar with dolphin shaped handles.
The cabinets and furnishings, including the counter, are the original 18th century pieces in which the collection of products was stored.
This year Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella will celebrate 400 years of uninterrupted business, in the name of tradition and innovation. Raw materials of the highest quality are still used and the apothecary fathers’ artisanal procedures are still followed, yet the company avails itself of modern technology and state of the art equipment
Eugenio Alphandery, general manager and co-owner of Officina comments on this: “given my passion for both antique and modern cars, I could compare this company to a convertible from the 1930’s with hand hammered bodywork crafted by an artisan and a powerful, modern motor, perfect brakes and suspension, all exhalting the car’s beauty and the pleasure of driving it.”
For the occasion major restoration has been undertaken at the historic shop on Via della Scala to restore the ancient pharmacy to its original appearance. This restoration project represents a milestone in Officina’s long history.
Furthermore, in 2012 the selling of 1612 fragrances was concluded “Ottone” and “Porcellana”, custom created for the occasion in a limited number, will cease.