Even if I’m only changing trains in Florence, I have to check my bags and make a dash to this nearby most amazing store:

Officina Profumo Farmeceutica di Santa Maria Novella

It was once a 14th century Gothic Church, founded by the Dominican Friars, who were part of that whole medieval bunch of holy men who started gathering Italian flowers and turning them into health and beauty potions. Thanks to those gentlemen, we have one of the most gorgeous shops on earth, that turns a shopping trip into a mystical experience.

It’s one jewel box of a room after another, staffed by chic women who graciously offer you chances to sniff and sample these bewitching creations. It’s also bursting with wonderful souvenirs. I LOVE the potpourri, made with ten different herbs and flowers from the surrounding hills, packaged in velvet pouches. Yes, you can now get Santa Maria Novella products on-line and at stores in New York and Beverly Hills, but there is nothing like going to this dreamy source!

AND you are near the Basilica Santa Maria Novella, a vast beauteaous spot filled with frescoes from Renaissance masters.

For lunch? The nearby Trattoria Garga at Via del Moro 48r, is a delicious, artsy hangout, beloved by Florentines and tourists.

Insomma…Just steps away from the Florence train station, you can smell, see, and taste some of Italy’s finest creations.


  1. JoAnn
    January 31, 2010 at 4:48 pm (8 years ago)

    It is a destination for all your senses. The scents are heavenly and you can taste the jams, honeys and digestifs still hand created with traditional recipes. Susan, I agree, I cannot be anywhere in the vicinity of Florence without stopping by!

  2. Carol Coviello-Malzone
    February 2, 2010 at 8:37 pm (8 years ago)

    Oh, that potpourri. I walk into my closet at home and it all comes back to me – that exquisite store. There is no other scent like it. I also love the lavender mints.

  3. Erin
    February 4, 2010 at 4:56 am (8 years ago)

    Ahh… Trattoria Garga! I have so many pictures of my meal there — truly one of the most memorable dinners I’ve ever had! Thank you for capturing the scents and uniqueness of Santa Maria Novella, too! Just across the piazza, there is a tiny gelato store that I visited no less than 3 times a day while I was in Florence… But I’m sure everyone has a story just like that one!! Love this blog!

  4. Jayne Wenger
    February 6, 2010 at 1:05 am (8 years ago)

    I love Santa Maria Novella too! I wear the Bagara (orange blossom) and Muschio (musk) together – and it smells fabulous. I know it sounds a little odd, but it is a great combination! And what better reason to go Florence but to stop at this incredible store!

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