When I am in a pharmacy, or “drug store” as they’re known in America, I am forced to run a gauntlet comprised of row upon row of silly tee shirts, alarm clocks, towers of overpriced batteries, glistening wine bottles and expensive tap water put into bottles to mimic mineral water you might have enjoyed on your European vacation. Then, at the very back, exactly where the meat would be on display in a supermarket, is where they allot a small rectangle for the Pharmacist to work in.
Things are different in Italy. You’ll find a farmacia in almost every town of decent size. It will be immediately apparent where you can get your medicine. Scattered about might be organic cosmetics, herbal medicines, baby care products, and homeopathic specialties, but the focus is on the wide variety of pills in blister packs that are dispensed by the pharmacist. If you are there to pick up some pills you may be surprised—they might be far less expensive, even at the “regular” price than they are in the U.S, even if you’re on one of those “drug plans” that are rumored to make medicine less expensive. If you have forgotten to bring your medicines and need some pronto, you may also be surprised that they’ll accommodate you if they can figure out what drug you need—even without a prescription.
You may be even more surprised if you happen to walk into a pharmacy that’s been in operation at least since 1561, as has the Farmacia S.S. Annunziata dal 1561, Firenze, Italy.
You’ll find this elegant beauty on Via Servi between the Duomo and Piazza S. S. Annunziata, which is where you’ll find another compelling place to visit, the Ospedale degli Innocenti.
Over the many years the family pharmacy has developed products for hygiene and skin beauty.
The furniture you see inside the shop today dates to the 18th century.
So when you’re on your little walking tour of Florence centered around the Duomo, don’t forget to pop into the farmacia for a spell and have a look around. It’s a friendly place. And if there’s something that ails you, just ask.
More Medicine and Pharmacies
If you find yourself in the region of Le Marche, you can visit the Antica Farmacia Mazzolini
If you want to know more about the development of medicine in Italy, head to Padua and the new MUSME – Museo di Storia della Medicina and learn how the clever folks of Padua defied the Popes to learn anatomy and thus begin a new age of modern medicine.