Santa Maria Novella: My 3 Favorite Colognes From The Cult Italian Brand

If you're looking for a scent that's unique, elegant, and full of old-world pedigree, SMN is for you.
Publish date:
November 25, 2014

Santa Maria Novella or, if we're being proper, Officina Profuma--Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella (whew), has been in my periphery for a while now, but I didn't become fully obsessed until the last month or so. When I was in London in October, I passed one of their Farmacias and, overwhelmed by the sheer fanciness of what I saw through the windows, decided I was too grubby (and probably too broke) to enter and kept walking.

However, I've recently started working in a beauty boutique where we sell a large selection of the line, which has a fascinatingly rich history reaching back to 1212 in Florence. Way back then, the monks of SMN were making herbal remedies to use in their monastery, and by 1612 their reputation resulted in their incredible pharmacy being opened to the masses. Much of the centuries-old tradition is still in place, in the manufacturing processes of their iconic potpourri and bar soaps, as well as the legend behind their original cologne, created for Catherine de Medici, with its bergamot and citrus scent.

And while the original scent is truly lovely and unique, I've grown to madly love a few others from the line, which ranges from soaps to bubble baths to paper incense to lotions, but let's focus on my top three scents.

1. Tabacco Toscano

My number one is the amazingly sexy Tabacco Toscano. Dedicated to the Toscano cigar, it's got a scent that's smoky and sweet and thoroughly unisex.

Notes of vanilla and amber flank the tobacco, which dries down warm and light and lasts on the skin for a remarkably long time, for a cologne.

I've come to splash myself with this stuff on a near-daily basis, and I've yet to meet a person who doesn't fall for it upon first sniff. And luckily for me, it's also available in a candle and bar soap formula. T.T. 4 lyfe.

2. Melograno

Next up is Melograno, the company's pomegranate scent. I typically avoid anything that is intended to be fruity, as I find those scents too sweet.

But SMN's interpretation of the pomegranate is slightly tart, slightly spicy, and just a bit powdery. It's elegant and refined, but it's got a bit of kick to it, too.

Plus, like Tabacco Toscano, Melograno has a slew of other compatible products, including a bath oil, scented terracotta, and talcum powder.

3. Nostalgia

Finally, a scent that I don't think I could ever wear, but I'm so intrigued by that I have to share it. At its base, Nostalgia is quite similar to Tabacco Toscano.

Notes of tobacco, vanilla, and amber are all in there--however, they can be a bit hard to find underneath the obvious scent of leather and benzene.

Nostalgia is meant to smell like a vintage racing car, and it gets the scent dead on. One sniff enters your nose sharply, making you feel as if you've stumbled into a garage where someone's recently been smoking pipe tobacco. I don't dislike the scent, by any means. I actually find it quite comforting. It's unique and I think it would smell incredible on the right person. And who knows, maybe that person is you.

One thing to remember with these fragrances is that they are colognes, so they have a much lower concentration of fragrance than an eau de toilette or eau de parfum.

This means two things: 1) you can be incredibly generous in your application of the scent, as I've yet to find it being overpowering on my skin, and 2) the lasting power is less than a typical EDT or EDP, but it's still quite decent. After working seven or eight hours I can still lift my wrist to my nose and smell the faint remains of the morning's application, but if I were headed out on the town afterwards, I'd definitely reapply.

  • Have you ever tried any SMN products?
  • Are you one of the lucky folks who've had the chance to see the Farmacia in Florence? I want to hear all about it!