Florence, Italy: True Birthplace of Fragrance
Arts & Culture
Food & Wine
The history of fragrance takes one on a journey throughout the World, from Egypt across the spice and silk road to the lavender fields of Grasse, France; known as the perfume capital of the World. Florence, Italy, is the founding "capital of fragrance" in Europe and still houses some iconic perfume houses.
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Where to stay in Florence
Four Seasons Hotel Firenze
An oasis in the city center, home to an Old World style, a Michelin-starred restaurant and Florence’s largest private garden.
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The St. Regis Florence
A longtime favorite for its richly-dressed rooms, Arno River views, wraparound garden terrace and central location 10 minutes from all the sights.
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Daily Buffet breakfast for two guests per bedroom, served in the Breakfast room
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A tranquil Oltrarno hideaway with an in-the-know vibe, 14 antique-filled rooms and a gorgeous wraparound terrace overlooking Europe’s largest private garden.
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Things to do in Florence
The city's tradition of perfumery can be traced back to the 13th century, when the Dominican friars of the Santa Maria Novella convent began cultivating medicinal herbs. The friars soon realized that the oils extracted from these herbs could be used to create perfumes, and they began to experiment with different blends. •
Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella is the oldest pharmacy in Europe, and it's still in operation today famous for its perfumes, colognes, and other beauty products. One of the most famous perfumes created in Florence was Acqua della Regina, which was created for Catherine de' Medici, the queen of France. Acqua della Regina, still sold today, is a blend of rose, jasmine, and orange blossom, and it quickly became one of the most popular perfumes in Europe.
This is a modern perfumery that uses traditional methods to create its fragrances. You can even create your own custom perfume.
Antica Spezieria Erboristeria San Simone is an herbalist shop that has been in business for over 500 years. The shop sells a variety of herbs, spices, and other natural products, with a selection of perfumes and colognes made with all natural ingredients.
The Villoresi Museum is a unique institution in Florence that offers visitors a multi-sensory journey through the world of perfume. The museum is located in the historic center of Florence, in a beautiful 16th-century palazzo.
The Arno River flows through Florence, and its banks are lined with beautiful gardens. These gardens are home to a wide variety of plants, including roses, jasmine, lavender, and bergamot. These plants are the source of the essential oils that are used to create many of Florence's signature perfumes. Giardino di Boboli is one of the oldest and most famous gardens in Florence that has inspired perfumery. It was created in the 16th century and is home to a wide variety of plants, including roses, jasmine, and citrus trees. There are many more of these beautifully curated gardens alongside the Arno River which offer tours.
You can enjoy a vespa tour of Florence, take a pasta making class, enjoy a Tuscan vineyard tour to the south, or spend a day at the Palazzo Pitti to see how the Medici's lived. Top it off with a picnic in the Boboli Garden with a bottle of vino.
Places to eat & drink in Florence
The Angel Roofbar & restaurant is a chic Southern Italian-Mediterranean fusion restaurant and bar in Florence. It boasts stunning views of the city spread across four terraces atop the Calimata hotel, steps away from the famous Ponte Vecchio. The menu has a focus on locally-sourced ingredients, and the wine list is extensive, not to mention their celebrated “aperitifo experience.” La Vie en Florence cocktail is a winner, along with many other unique artisan cocktails. They offer a desirable morning and weekend brunch experience as well. Reservations recommended.
All’Antico Vinaio is a small sandwich shop located in the heart of Florence and is one of the most reviewed sandwich shops in the World, selling over 1000 a day. It is a popular spot for tourists and locals alike and is known for its delicious schiacciata sandwiches. Schiacciata is a type of flatbread that is made with olive oil, salt, and flour. It is often topped with a variety of fillings, such as cured meats, cheeses, and vegetables. At All’Antico Vinaio, you can choose from a variety of schiacciata sandwiches, their most popular is La Favolosa, translated “fabulous”. La Favolosa is jam packed with sbriciolona, a regional salami, spicy grilled eggplant, topped with homemade pecorino, and artichoke cream. The sandwiches at Antico Vinaio are made fresh to order, served piping hot and reasonably priced making them a great option for budget-minded travelers.
La Ménagère is a chic bistro, florist and gift shop located in the heart of Florence. It is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike, and is known for its creative cocktails, elevated cafe fare, and beautiful atmosphere. It’s a great place for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and be sure to reserve a seat at the chef’s table. Each room feels like a different world and is a great place to host group dinner parties. The cocktail menu at La Ménagère is just as impressive as the food menu. There are a variety of creative cocktails to choose from, such as the "Florence Nightingale" (gin, cucumber, elderflower, and prosecco) and the "Mediterranean Negroni" (gin, Campari, sweet vermouth, and orange bitters). In addition to the food and cocktails, La Ménagère also has a beautiful gift and florist shop. The shop sells a variety of home goods, accessories, and gifts, all inspired by the flavors and traditions of Florence.
Florence is the birthplace of Gelato created in the 16th century, so be sure to indulge while you are there.
Gucci Osteria is an embodiment of the majesty of the House of Gucci and Michelin 5-star chef Massimo Boturra. Contemporary Italian Cuisine - Dinner and cocktails - Reservations well in advance are needed.
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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Florence.