Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Florence , Italy Part 6 : Wednesday Conclusion

We board the bus for the short ride back downtown to the Pharmacy's original location , the 13th century monastery and laboratory . The entry hall is lined with lovely statues , each reposing in their own alcove . The hushed tones and ancient smells take me back to beyond time ....
It is difficult to wrap my mind around such beautiful , ornate embellishment .
A small , quiet young man greets us , takes us back to the original pharmacy and entrance , where homeopathic remedies are still dispensed as the Friars have always done . Beyond the grassy courtyard he points to another building , where Friars are still trained today . Down comes the velvet rope and we are led to areas no one gets to see : The original distillery , shelves lined with antique bottles and siphons , The courtyard still in use today, where we sit and chat while he points out the different flowers and plants . He admits , this is his garden , and behind us is the kitchen door , where the in house Friars prepare their meals . I am in another century...
The ancient Chapel , ceiling lined with 13th Century frescoes no one gets to see . He points out details , and mentions the DaVinci Code .( Gasp )
As we are led through another reception area , we pass a table piled high with bottles of Santa Maria Novella cologne , the adorable 50 ml with gold caps...please take two (2) bottles from the table , we are told .
Our guide gestures to the Aqcua di Colonia and the Ginestra . Duty Calls !
He tells us :
" A few years ago , an archaeologist on Cyprus discovered some ancient and historically significant perfumery artifacts and Santa Maria Novella funded an exibition of these artifacts . "
He begins to pass out to each of us a large format book , limited edition archive of the dig and the artifacts which travelled around Italy ( Rome , Venice , Florence ). One of the artifacts was a 4000 year old still , containing scented oil . An ancient formula was discovered , which SMN reproduced in honor of the discovery and sold in limited edition , numbered bottles . As a final gesture of generosity , they gave us each an 8 ml glass vial of this historic fragrance , , Mavrorachi .The day is coming to a close , we wander back to the retail desk and some of us make long awaited purchases . It is only a few short blocks to the hotel , most of us are hungry and tired and planning dinner and gelato stops .
It is difficult to come back to reality .
Let's don't .

No comments: