History and Heritage


13th century


The Dominican Friars arrive in Florence

 

Start of the activity of the Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella

The Dominican friars settle in Florence in the Chiesa di Santa Maria delle Vigne, which later became Santa Maria Novella, and started to cultivate in their gardens the plans and officinal herbs to prepared the medicines for the infirmary of the monastery.

1381

Rose water is born

 

Rose water

The monks start production of the aromatic waters. In 1381, the first sale of rose water is documented, used as disinfectant during the frequent plague epidemics.

1533

A perfume for Caterina de’ Medici

 

A perfume for Caterina de’ Medici

The monks created for Caterina de’ Medici, who became the bride of Henri II, King of France, a bergamot-based essence: The “Acqua della regina [Water of the Queen]” was born and is still produced today by the Officina di Santa Maria Novella.

1590

The alchemic workshop

 

The alchemic workshop

The apothecary’s shop expanded, became increasingly independent of the monastery and turns into a veritable alchemic workshop. The monks experimented with increasingly complex and elaborate formulas, and not only to cure the sick monks, but also for a broader public.

1612

The apothecary’s shop opens to the public

 

The apothecary’s shop opens to the public

Fra’ Angiolo Marchissi opened the Pharmacy to the public and thus the Dominicans officially launched the commercial activity. The Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella assumed a symbolic name placing perfume and the ephemeral before medicine and healing.

1614

The Antisterica water is born

 

The Antisterica water is born

Fra’ Angiolo Marchissi formulated the Antisterica [Antihysterics] water, today Acqua di Santa Maria Novella.


An officinal herb in the Dominican tradition is the basis for this historic product: Balsamite, still cultivated today in the Garden of Santa Maria Novella, near the Villa della Petraia and distilled in the workshops of the Officina. It is the secret ingredient for the water and lozenges of Santa Maria Novella.

1659

The apothecary’s shop receives the title of Fonderia Granducale [Grand-Ducal Foundry]

The apothecary’s shop receives the title of Fonderia Granducale [Grand-Ducal Foundry]

The apothecary’s shop received the title of “Fonderia Granducale” from the Grand Duke Ferdinand II of Medici, and placed under the protection of the Florentine family, it received precious gifts such as the Medici coat of arms with the portrait of St. Peter, housed today in the Green Room.

1743

The apothecary Cosimo Bucelli and the “Segreti della Fonderia [Secrets of the Foundry]”

 

The apothecary Cosimo Bucelli and the “Segreti della Fonderia [Secrets of the Foundry]”

Fra’ Cosimo Bucelli, called “unguentary” formulates new recipes and medicines. The first official collection of the Officina di Santa Maria Novella was born: "I segreti della Fonderia di Sua Altezza Reale [The secrets of the Foundry of His Royal Highness]”. We owe the Alkermes formula to Bucelli, which is used as an excellent pick-me-up.

1808-1817

The Napoleonic conflicts and Fra’ Tommaso Valori

 

The Napoleonic conflicts and Fra’ Tommaso Valori

With the suppression of the ecclesiastical assets imposed in 1808 by the Napoleonic Government, the apothecary’s shop was run by Tommaso Valori who purchased it from the French government and then donated it once again to the monks.


Valori was a decisive figure in the history of the pharmacy who, unfortunately, did not manage to complete the expansion of the access from Via della Scala and transform the wide spaces of the Chapel of S. Niccolò into a sales hall.

1847-1854

Restoration work, the new sales hall

 

Restoration work, the new sales hall

Fra’ Damiano Beni completed the Valori project launching the renovation of the Chapel of S. Niccolò which was turned into the Sales Hall.

1871-1991

The pharmacy in the 20th century

 

The pharmacy in the 20th century

Ownership of the apothecary passed to the Stefani family, descendants of Cesare Augusto, nephew of Fra’ Damiano Beni.

1999 - 2012


Tradition and innovation: A 400 year old history

 

Tradition and innovation: A 400 year old history

The production facility was transferred to Via Reginaldo Giuliani, where tradition was combined with research and scientific and technological experimentation, an alchemic laboratory of the XX century.

In 2012 the Officina celebrated 400 years. Many significant restoration works were undertaken of the historic shop in Via della Scala, to return the rooms of the ancient pharmacy to their original appearance.

2012

The restoration of the Sacristy

 

The restoration of the Sacristy

The Sacristy of the former Chapel of San Niccolò is the restoration that aroused the greatest interest because of the result achieved.
In the original fresco of the XIV century, the nineteenth century intervention had the greatest impact [extensive. Wide] and the vault was in fact entirely repainted and on a starry sky background, the four Evangelists were inserted. 

With the restoration, conducted by Daniela Dini, it was possible to completely remove the 19th century painting from the vaulted ceiling, returning it to the original painting by Mariotto di Nardo di Cione.

Under the painting of the four 19th century Evangelists the figures of three saints and one bishop were recovered: a Franciscan monk (San Bernardo di Quintavalle), a Benedictine monk (San Benedetto), a Dominican friar (San Tommaso) and a bishop (San Niccolò).