PHOTOGRAPHY BY VALERIA CHERCHI
Down a cobbled street in Florence’s Santa Croce neighborhood, a 16th-century palazzo houses the artisanal perfumery Aquaflor. Heavy glass bottles line the antique mahogany shelves, creating the feel of a Renaissance-era apothecary. Here, master perfumer and resident “nose” Nicola Bianchi draws from a library of 1,500 raw ingredients to craft each of the atelier’s 72 signature fragrances—but he’s not the only one making scents. Visitors to Aquaflor can sign up to take two-hour private workshops in which they design their own bespoke perfumes.
Aquaflor works with several olfactory specialists, who develop and lead classes during these workshops. “What’s really important is that we start to get an olfactory education, an understanding of the way we smell and analyze things through our noses,” says Antonio Artese, one of these specialists.
Attendees begin with a “tasting,” sniffing their way through basic fragrances with names like speziato (spicy) and erbaceo (herbal). Under a specialist’s guidance, they then choose five or six scents—representing various olfactory families—to mix together. The takeaway, 100 milliliters of bespoke fragrance, is essentially Florence in a bottle. “Smell has the power of transporting you to a different geographical dimension in a split second, through your memory,” Artese says. “When you connect that to that perfume, it’s going to bring you back here again and again.” From $289, aquaflorexperience.com