1612. This is the year in which one of the oldest pharmacies in the world, the famous Officina Profumo - Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella, was opened up to the public in Florence, but as a matter of fact the first steps were made almost 400 years earlier in 1221, when the Dominican monks here cultivated their medical herbs in their gardens to create balms and pomades, which were used in the convent's infirmary.
The products were to become famous all over the world for their high quality, and today, several hundreds of years later, Santa Maria Novella still uses the best raw materials, and products are made using the original methods.
You can visit the beautiful store and museum in Via della Scala just behind the central station in Florence. Here you can shop all kinds of products such as lotions, shampoos, fragrances, soaps, perfumes, scented candles, even lotion and shampoo for cats and dogs! and much much more.
Over the years the company has expanded widely, so you can now find stores in several countries around the world as well as in other Italian cities. Even though Officina Profumo - Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella isn't exactly a hidden secret in Florence, you should really go visit the shop, see the museum and probably buy something to bring home with you. There is a good reason why the place is almost always filled with people eager to shop the (not cheap) products.
Via della Scala 16. www.smnovella.it