Posted by: debrakolkka | June 22, 2011

Santa Maria Novella Farmacia – Florence

You may be asking “Why would I be interested in a pharmacy?” I’m sure you would be interested in this gorgeous one in Florence. It was founded by Dominican friars around 1221 when they arrived in Florence. They used medicinal herbs grown in the monastic gardens to create medications and balms. News of the quality of the products eventually got about and in 1612 the pharmacy was opened to the public under the leadership of Father Angiolo Marchissi.

It is not particularly easy to find as the entrance at 16 Via della Scala is not all that obvious. Look for the blue awning and the recessed door is nearby.

look for the blue awning

the slightly hidden doorway

The first thing you will notice when you walk in is the heavenly smell. Follow your nose into this beautiful place. 

the entrance

the main room

the ceiling

detail on the ceiling

the second room

the ceiling in the herb room

an old shelf

in the library

the ceiling in the library

beautiful old jars

a favourite

one of the old reference books

old things

a lovely old bottle

old preparations


a room full of old equipment

an old press

It is free to enter the pharmacy, but you may not leave empty handed. There is a large range of beautiful products that are famous the world over for their quality and lovely fragrance. I’m glad I finally tracked the pharmacy down.


  1. Can you buy a jar of leeches there?

    • I didn’t see any, but you can investigate when you go to Florence.

  2. What an amazing place!

    • It is a lovely place, I’m sure you would love it.

  3. What an intriguing place. Love it.

    • It is worth going for the smell alone.

  4. Can’t wait to visit this interesting old pharmacy, a little older than any I have worked in……..

  5. So what did you buy?? I love their products.

    • I love their soaps and buy them regularly,

  6. So pleased you photographed this, went there years ago when they said they may have to close, or not export due to the strict new European regulations. I have bought the white packaged soaps in the past. Obviously they did not have to close and maybe the products have had the prices raised to comply with the guidelines. Did you buy any products.

    • I love the soaps the best.

  7. It looks like a museum – what an extraordinary place. I must admit I love visiting pharmacies in other countries, they are so very different from the ones here. Beautiful post of a unique setting, thank you for sharing this Debra 😉

    • It is beautiful and you can see the lovely gardens of the Santa Maria Novella church through some of the windows.

  8. What a beautiful place! Thank you for the wonderful photos. I especially loved the detailed ceilings!

    • Did you visit when you were in Florence?

  9. Fascinating – is it now a perfumery? Such wonderful old things in there! Thanks for taking photos for us, Deb!

    • They sell several perfumes, some from old recipes. The products are available around the world. I have seen some here in Australia, but there is nothing like going into the original shop.

  10. THAT is a pharmacy? Now I would not have guessed that. That ceiling is amazing.

    • It is a great spot to spend some time – and money – in Florence.

  11. Excellent recommendation and photos, as usual. I may add another pharmacy to visit in Florence that started operating in the 16th Century and also sells a fabulous line of beauty products, SS Annunziata on Via dei Servi.
    While you are visiting the area, do not forget to go and see the “Ospedale degli Innocenti”, a masterpiece by Brunelleschi, which marks the transition between the Gothic and Renaissance architectural styles

    • I have been to the Ospedale degli Innocenti and it is wonderful. I must go back and get some photos. I will also visit the other pharmacy, thank you for the suggestion.

  12. I seriously love your blog! I’m pretty much researching places to visit in Italy from your blog!

    • Thank you for the compliment. I hope you love Italy as much as I do.

  13. What a place!

    • I take everybody I know here and so far everybody has been impressed.

  14. Even the name of it sounds grand, “John’s Chemist” doesn’t quite have the same ring.
    What a stunning place.

    • It sounds even better with an Italian accent.

  15. Oh, how lovely! I was looking for an elderly gentleman with an embroidered, velvet smoking jacket and embroidered, tasselled cap to match. It’s the stuff of magical tales isn’t it.

    • You will need to go to Florence to see him.

  16. Last time I visited was in May this year. When I go to Florence with Deb we make this a must stop destination. I always buy a rose candle. It is shaped like a rose, pale pink and when you light it the whole room smells of beautiful roses. A must have.

  17. How beautiful! I don’t know why regular pharmacies have to be so bright and clinical.

    • It is a gorgoeus building, I go whenever I am in Florence just to look.

  18. Oh my goodness. This completely exceeds my expectations. I must go see it! Thank you so much for this post. I have a friend who bought cologne there, and I have been trying to track some down for myself.

    • There are shops in Lucca and Forte dei Marmi that sell the products. I would be surprised if there wasn’t something in Milan.

  19. […] interior of the pharmacy is beautiful and it always smells heavenly in there. Click here for […]

  20. A weary traveler could greatly benefit from knowing about this fragrant universe just 5 minutes away from the Santa Maria Novella train station.The elixirs, essences, distillations and powders have remained world famous over the centuries and inhaling their aromas is like breathing in Renaissance Italy.

    • It can be a bit hard to find the first time, but it is worth the trouble.

  21. Oh….I didn’t even know such a place existed! I am so going there next time!

    • It is lovely, I’m sure you will like it.

  22. Te dejo un enlace para que podamos seguir en contacto despues de leer tu blog me quedé maravillada con la informacion. Mi email
    Te dejo mi email para estar en contacto y poder colaborar mutuamente en nuestros blogs y webs.

Leave a Reply