Florence is all about Renaissance art and architecture, right? The happy tourist wallows in it gleefully. But Florence is also home to artisans like Sileno Cheloni, the Master Perfumer at Aquaflor Firenze. When you wander into his lair, you get to feast your eyes on a bit of fine architecture and an inner courtyard of great beauty—all while your other senses are lightly jack-hammered with swirling and ever-changing exotic scents.
Sileno is the guy who made these scents, the guy who travels the world to fill his carry-on with things like unique rose petals and Ambergris.
You may have heard of Ambergris in grade school. You snickered at the very thought of it. Who wouldn’t laugh nervously at the idea of whale vomit at truffle prices?
Ambergris, you see, forms the basis of Aquaflor’s most expensive perfume. It’s in that case to the right. It’s called Duende. If you happen to have €1,800 burning a hole in your pocket as a result of spending your entire vacation eating shared portions of pizza by the slice and drinking water from Italian fountains like the guidebooks recommend for cheapskate tourists, you can purchase a 100ml bottle of it.
(I’ve smelled it. You can too. Ask. It probably costs them €6 in evaporation every time they open the bottle.)
Besides smelling exotic things at Aquaflor, can also take classes on perfumery or have them make you up a scent tailored to who you are and how you smell normally.
Below is a picture of the Parlor of Essences taken from the courtyard. Those bottles are of every scent they have in stock, ready to be mixed into a custom scent.
Remember this is not a chain. You want this stuff you come to the store. There is more than expensive perfumes in the store. You can buy soaps and Christmas scents, for example.
(Thanks to Luisa Donati of Montestigliano for introducing me to Aquaflor.)