Yesterday we were walking back from the library with an American friend when she casually asked me if we had been to the Pharmacy of Santa Maria Novella. I said no and I was wondering what the big deal about a pharmacy was. That is when she said it was the world’s oldest operating pharmacy.
The pharmacy was established in 1221 by monks from the Santa Maria Novella Basilica next door, who grew herbs to make balms and medicines.
It was bang in the city centre and we walked into this door which looked like every other door. If you didn’t know it was there then you could easily miss it.
Inside was this beautiful building with all the cologne, soaps, candles, scented flowers, potions made in the traditional ways. There is a small museum with ancient scales, jars, mortars and machines using which the potions were made.
They have a display where you can select to view in different languages the history of the place and other information regarding the pharmacy and their products.
Portraits of people that owned the place at different times.
A view of the garden and the monastery at the back.
It is entry free and definitely worth a visit. I have been living here for more than three years now and didn’t even know about this place. This is a hidden gem.