• Acqua di Colonia alla Zagara, Officina Santa Maria Novella

  • October, 2021

We like stories. All the stories.
The history of cinema is full of directors who have made precision and method their obsession.
Just think of that surly genius of Kubrick who, for the realization of “2001, A Space Odyssey”, demanded from the tailor that space suits even had internal labels, so that the actors, faced with so much verisimilitude, were facilitated in descend into the part.
Or, and it is the episode that gave us the inspiration for the two perfumes that we report, during the filming of the dance scene in “Il Gattopardo”, Visconti was not enough that the splendid Claudia Cardinale had orange blossoms between her hair, but she wanted their perfume to be generously vaporized in the air.

To those who objected: - But what sense does it make, Master, it will not be possible for the spectators to smell the perfume! , the director replied: - It doesn't matter, because the extras, the actors and all of us will breathe the smell of Sicily. And it will make it all more true. And this will feel.

So let's try to smell this perfume in the air too ... And among the many orange blossom perfumes that exist, which one will we choose? Obviously that of the Pharmaceutical Workshop of Santa Maria Novella: Acqua di Colonia alla Zagara. For two reasons. The first is that we like to talk about a place that is a source of pride for Italy and that in terms of history is no joke: it is one of the oldest pharmacies in the world, created by Dominican friars from Bologna upon their arrival in Florence. , at the beginning of the 13th century. In the cultivation of officinal herbs for the preparation of medicaments and balms, they were facilitated by the fact that the basilica was in the open countryside (do not think of it as it is now, we are talking about 8 centuries ago !!) so much so that it was called Santa Maria delle Vigne, in reference at the location.

The Officina Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella is the place where the origins of cologne can be traced: the famous Acqua della Regina, still on the market, specially composed for Caterina de 'Medici on the occasion of her marriage to Henry II who crowned her Queen of France. The second reason why we choose Santa Maria Novella is that Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, in the book from which the film is based, makes Angelica wear the cologne "à la maréchale", a very spicy fragrance of great character linked, depending on the version. , to several strong characters (from Leonora Dori Concini to the Countess D'Aumont) united by the fact that they did not exactly a beautiful ending: all accused of witchcraft and burned at the stake.





At this point we just have to invite you to review Visconti's masterpiece or reread the book wearing one of the two fragrances, perhaps after having visited, in via della Scala 16 that magical place that is the Santa Maria Novella Pharmaceutical Workshop. P.S. We like to close the circle of this post cinephile by remembering that it is precisely here that in "Hannibal" by Ridley Scott, the second chapter of the saga of "The Silence of the Innocents", Dr. Lecter buys the perfume for Clarice. But if you haven't seen it and stopped at Jonathan Demme's film, you have done well. But this is another story.

"O Stella, o faithful star, when will you decide to give me a less ephemeral appointment, far from everything, in your region of perennial certainty?"