Sunday, March 27, 2016

Florence Sweet Smells. AquaFlor my new find

Photo from Santa Maria Novella web site
One of the best known perfumery in
Florence, Italy, Santa Maria Novella pharmacy, is a popular stop for visitors to Florence.   

Not far away, near the river Famacia Munsterman is another
historic pharmacy.  The Antica Mustermann offers hair and body care products and a wide assortment of custom scents. Just entering the farmacia you are stepping back in time. 

Photo from antica Munstermann web site

AquaFlor Firenze my new find.

Near the square of the Santa Croce church complex the
Serristori Corsini Antinori Palace houses the AquaFlor Firenze. 

The modern glass door did not prepare me for the amazing interior.   The shop is housed in the rooms of a 16th century palazzo with a large courtyard complete with ornate central well.

The enormous rooms of the shop stock men's and women's product on antique-type cabinets from floor to the soaring ceiling.  

Visitors are encouraged to test the large selection of scents and lotions.   An extensive variety of soaps in pastel hues are displayed on a table top that could accommodate a party of 40 or more!

                                               A large selection of soaps for men and women with original scents.
                                                   The perfect gifts were a selection of different 'companion' soaps.

The friendly staff encourages visitors to stay as long as they wish without any pressure to purchase.  From the Ciao Florence brochure I discovered a perfume class is offered by the Master perfumer Sileno Cheloni.  Attendees will learn how perfume is created from natural materials, oils and essences. 

The patient staff member answered all my questions about the products.   I was surprised to learn that at some times during the year some of the scents are not available because essential ingredients may only be available at limited times during the year.  


 The Aquaflor Firenze web site describes the boutique perfumery as:
"Aquaflor Firenze is an artisan perfumery with an elegant atmosphere dedicated to the craftsmanship of perfume. Perfumes carefully created with the use of high quality, raw materials and rare essences.
These can be customized by selecting a fragrance or scent to which each of us is intimately linked. The product line also includes organic soap, ambient fragrance, natural cosmetics, a shaving line, as well as bath salts treated with essential oils."

The choice of scents seems endless

Interested in learning about the process of creating scents? 

" Ciao Florence  offers an opportunity to visit the laboratory, learn about the creation of perfumes and scents and create one to take home with you."    


  • ½ DAY
  • 1 DAY
  • 03:00 PM...

    Meet the Master perfumer Sileno Cheloni of Aquaflor Firenze and learn the techniques and secrets of this historical Florentine perfumery!

    The workshop will take place inside an intriguing and atmospheric laboratory, located within the historical cellars of the Renaissance Palazzo Corsini Antinori Serristori.

    Still an undiscovered treasure, AquaFlor boasts an invaluable collection of antiques which form the perfect backdrop to your unique sensory experience of these beautiful fragrances. You will relive the magical experience of alchemists and apothecaries residing here during Renaissance Florence, surrounded by unique glassware, ampules and rare essences from all over the world.

    Following the historical footprints of Catherine de Medici and RenĂ© le Florentin, Master Sileno’s will guide you through the process which will ultimately lead to the creation of your own unique and ambient fragrance!

    At the end of the workshop you will be rewarded with a bottle of 100 ml (travel size) or 250 ml of your own personalized perfume, complete with formula. Each participant will also receive a certificate signed by Sileno Cheloni. This truly unique and authentic experience is not to be missed!!!


  • WHERE: Borgo Santa Croce, 6 (AquaFlor Boutique)
    DURATION: 2 hours
  • STARTS03:00 PM


    • Visit AquaFlor, an historical perfumery and laboratory where you will relive the magical experience of alchemists and apothecaries of Renaissance Florence!
    • Create your own ambient fragrance under the guidance of Sileno Cheloni, the master perfumer of Aquaflor
    • Take back home with you your own bottle of personalized perfume (100 ml), complete with formula!

    • Welcome and visit to AquaFlor store and the artisanal laboratory
    • Introduction to the history of perfumery in Florence
    • Creation of an ambient fragrance from a kit of essences
    • 250 ml of your own personalized ambient perfume
    • Coffee Break (complimentary coffee, tea or water)
    • Certificate signed by the Master perfumer Sileno Cheloni

    Contact Ciao Florence to book your experience:"
    Information on Ciao Florence tours must be confirmed directly with Ciao Florence since dates, prices and schedules may change.

    Photos above are the property of Home to Italy.  

    Monday, March 14, 2016

    Florence: a visit to the Duomo 'repair shop for marble'

    A new adventure in Florence after many visits
    Ciao Firenze office is close to the Duomo on Via Cavouar

    Slow travel in Italy during the off season  allows you to walk the side streets, exploring small shops, churches and even museums with fewer visitors. Even the coffee bar is full of locals not tourists when you order your morning cappuccino.  

    I have spent a lot of time in Firenze since a semester abroad, 
    and never thought to take a 'tour'.

    Ciao Florence offered to send me on one of their tours that included a visit to the stone carving studio where trained stone cutters do repairs and preservation of statues, decorative friezes, pillars, trims for the Cathedral, Santa Maria del Fiore. 

    Just a block from the Duomo down a narrow street
    Only one block from the Duomo is a simple one story building that I may have walked by a number of times but never noticed the signage:

    There is a sculpture on the outside wall depicting 
    scultorestone carvers
    The original studio was at a site near the back of the Cathedral.   This building is now the Museo dell' Opera.   Michelangelo worked in the original location to create works of art know world wide.    

    My guide had the key that took us back in time as we stepped into the studio
    I tried to imagine the noise from hammer and chisel or the voice of the artist talking to the stone as we entered the building.   The studio is one large room with a vaulted ceiling.  Natural light streams in from the windows at the top of the room.  And there is a fine powder everywhere.   It may be ground stone or the by product of sanding a piece of stone smooth.  A modern ventilation system now snakes up one wall.   

    None of the scultori were working when we arrived but the current repair projects at different work stations, suggesting they would return.   It takes years of study and apprenticeship before a sculptor becomes a master.

    Amazing that the tools the artisans use today are modeled after those used when the statures, pillars or ornamental stone was created centuries ago.


    Damages or 'worn out' statues are duplicated and the original art work is preserved in the museum.    The depth of each curve and planes are measured with the metal calibrating system above.
    Entire statues are duplicated in this way.

    Modern scaffolding was not available when the massive Church was constructed.  To protect the builders a system of leather belts and ropes was designed.

    My day with Ciao Florence included a visit to the Baptistery and the Duomo.  Even though I had visited both buildings before, returning with an expert explained so much more.

    Contact Ciao Florence for your next adventure

    Ciaoflorence Tours
    Facebook Google +
    Ciaoflorence Tours   +39 055354044
    Sales office: Via Cavour 36R
    Head office : Via Luigi Alamanni 35

    Sunday, March 13, 2016

    Italy: How to deliver furniture

    Have you stayed or visited an apartment in Italy that dates back hundreds of years?

    You will not find elevators in most of these charming old building.  Have you wondered how the wonderful side board or chest in the period rooms?

    Walking down a sidestreet I noticed a large truck that was blocking the narrow street.   The truck had something that looked like a ladder that American firetrucks might use.

    Then the workers loaded mattresses on a platform and the burden slowly inched towards an open window 4 flights above!

    I quickly realized this was a moving van!!!!

    Wednesday, March 9, 2016

    Vegetarian Italian: Cook in Puglia

     Oggi Cucino Vegetariano     
    The past three years Ylenia Sambati has been a great collaborator with Home to Italy, sharing the unique and the beautiful 
    Italian life in the Salento. 

    Home to Italy is proud to launch her new online Italian Vegetarian cookbook later in 2016   ©yleniasambati2015  

    Yle is the CEO of the only Wine and Cooking School in Puglia and we have created this platform to share her program for cooking Vegetarian Italian food.    

    Video cooking lessons and more will be available soon.    
    You can also practice Italian since all recipes are featured in our native language.  
    One of the attendees to Cook In Puglia shares his opinion with you.
    Click here
    Oggi Cucino Vegetariano 
    Vegetarian recipes in Italian and English

    Click each link below to see our most current postings.

    Chichpeas and mint sauce                  




    Home made Stracciatella Cheese                                     

    Tomato Sauce                               

    Bocconcini di Zucchine 
     Zucchine Balls  

    Spinach and Spelt        

    Interested in learning more about Vegetarian Cooking?  
    Now Cook in Puglia will add a Vegetarian cooking class for 2016!