Santa Maria Novella perfumes was formed in Florence (Firenze), Italy, by Dominican friars and continues in existence yet today, making fragrances, candles, soap, body products and potpourri.
Santa Maria Novella is believed to be the oldest pharmacy still in operation in the world and is still housed in the church in Florence. Their fragrances are created using the recipes from the friars, some dating back to the 1300s. Think, this was during the time of Dante and Giotto. Originally Santa Maria Novella created the products for private use as they were an infirmary, and they used the herbs to aid in healing. Rose Water was one of the first products they used in the infirmary was rose water. It was used during a plague flare-up as an antiseptic to clean houses of potential germs.
IN 1612, under the Medici patronage, the pharmacy was opened to the public, mostly due to its entry into the perfume market. Its entry was with one customer - Catherine de Medici. They created a fragrance just for her, which is still being made today. Try a Santa Maria Novella sample of Acqua di Colonia, Catherine's bespoke perfume.
The Pharmacy almost ceased to exist. In 1866, Italy took over all church property. One monk, apparently seeing the writing on the wall before that happened, signed over control of the pharmacy to a layman, and he eventually bought it from the State. Santa Maria Novella pharmacy was then free to continue as a profit-making business.
If you go to Florence today and visit the pharmacy, you will think it's not there, it is just a church, but go around the corner and enter the pharmacy, and the smells, once you are inside will assault your nose. They still make their products locally, though they now have a small factory that can produce their products.
Try a Santa Maria Novella Nostalgia sample, one of their modern perfumes, which is quite a departure from their normal perfumes, it is a tribute to Italian auto racing.