In Florence, Italy is the Santa Maria Novella Pharmacy, the oldest in the world
Santa Maria Novella Pharmacy, The Oldest in the World
In Florence, Italy, we find a pharmacy that has centuries of history and, therefore, boasts of being the oldest in the world. This is the Santa María Novella Pharmacy, about which we are going to learn about its past and present.
History of the Pharmacy of Santa Maria Novella
Although the official date of the pharmacy’s opening is 1612, its history begins hundreds of years earlier. Around the s. XIII, the Dominican friars who settled in the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella began to cultivate different herbs with which they created their own medicines.
What is the most famous product of the Santa María Novella Pharmacy?
One of the most outstanding products that these friars made was l’Acqua di S.M. Novella, a perfume that Caterina de Medici commissioned from them in 1533 to wear at her wedding, which was held in France. By the way, this perfume is still being made to this day, you can buy the 100 ml bottle for dollars $ 80.
It is in 1612 when they set up the pharmacy and open it to the public. Although his medicines were not only addressed to the inhabitants of Florence in general, but also to royalty, since the establishment was named Fonderia de Sua Altezza Reale, which means Apothecary of his Royal Highness.
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In the S. XIX, in Italy the assets of the Church are confiscated, so the pharmacy became the State. It is then that the property is transferred to Cesare Augusto Stefani, who is actually the nephew of the last friar who ran the pharmacy. Since then, his family has been in charge of managing it, already going through the fourth generation.
The Pharmacy Today
To this day the pharmacy is still working and you can enter and buy in it. What’s more, it has expanded and has locations all over the world. However, do not think that you are going to find over-the-counter medicines here, but rather that everything here continues to revolve around plants, being more of a kind of herbalism.
Among the different products that you can buy here we find perfumes, creams, toothpastes, soaps, sunscreens. According to the information they provide, all the products are made with herbs and natural fats, and are not tested on animals.
They have a food and drink section. They sell herbal teas, liqueurs, chocolate, cookies… There is even a part of the pharmacy where you can sit and drink one of their elaborate teas. .The building itself is wonderful. It has different palatial rooms that take you back centuries. For example, in the room known as the Sacristy, frescoes from the s. XIV and XV.
Location and hours of the Pharmacy of Santa Maria Novella
The Santa Maria Novella Pharmacy is located at Via della Scala, 16, very close to Piazza di Santa Maria Novella, since behind it it communicates directly with the famous basilica. Generally, it opens every day from 9 AM to 8 PM.
If you want to browse all the products, they have a website . In it you have the option of placing orders online or simply learning more about the operation of this pharmacy and all the preparations that are created in it.
In 1749, one of the Officine’s apothecaries, Fra’ Cosimo Bucelli, codified the extensive recipes of Santa Maria Novella into a book, “I segreti della Fonderia di Sua Altezza Reale” (“The Foundry Secrets of His Royal Highness”) . It was Bucelli who developed the foundry’s famous alcoholic liqueur, Alchermes, made from sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves (its deep scarlet color is obtained through dried and crushed ladybugs). During the 17th century, Santa Maria Novella would increasingly focus its attention on developing new liqueurs, which had medicinal applications.
Alchermes, for example, was given to new mothers to help them recover from childbirth, while another famous liquor, Elisir di China, contained quinine and was meant to treat malaria. By 1700, Santa Maria Novella had become famous throughout Europe; the Green Room welcomed visitors who came to enjoy the pharmacy’s most famous concoction, made from Alchermes, Elisir di China and chocolate syrup.
In 1866 the property of the Church of Santa Maria Novella was confiscated by the Italian state, and the pharmacy became the property of Cesare Augusto Stefani, nephew of the last director of the monastery, Damiano Beni. In 2012, to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the Officina, Poste Italiane, part of the Made in Italy Series. The Pharmacy celebrated the event by making two Limited Edition perfumes.