Santa Maria Novella
Sterling & Burke is privileged to be the only downtown DC stockist of products from legendary Italian apothecary, Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria*. With a history spanning more than eight centuries, this iconic brand is recognized as one of the word’s most luxurious and authentic grooming, beauty and perfumery brands. Its devotees are lured by their use of botanicals, grown in their own gardens on the outskirts of Florence, Tuscany and made by hand in their laboratories by a team of experts. Anybody who visits the Tuscan capital, should make a visit to their shop and museum a priority to visit. It is hard not to be overwhelmed by the scents and alchemy of their products. With such a reputation and such a cornucopia of desirable treats, we are delighted to bring a little part of the Officina to DC. Our Georgetown shop offers a curated collection of colognes, perfumes, creams, treatments, home scents and accessories from their most popular and recommended lines.
Officina Profumo Santa Maria Novella is one of the oldest pharmacies in the world. It was established by Dominican monks shortly after their arrival in Florence in 1221. The friars began cultivating medicinal herbs in their gardens to prepare medications, balms and ointments for their convent’s small infirmary. Their famous distilled Rose water stems from this time, with monks producing it in a bid to vanquish the Black Death that plagued the city.
The company’s fame continued to grow over the centuries, stretching beyond Italy’s borders. Along the way, they created a perfume for Catherine De’ Medici, who took it with her when she became the Queen of France. This was the first time alcohol had been used in an apothecary product, replacing oil or vinegar. This Eau de la Reine, is today known as the brand’s famous Acqua di Santa Maria Novella.
In 1612, under the management of Fra’Angioli Marchissi, the monastery opened its own built for purpose. It received the honor of calling itself, His Royal Highness’ Foundry [Fonderia di Sua Altezza Reale] after it fell under the patronage of Grand Duke of Tuscany. By the 1700s, Officina Santa Maria Novella had reached global fame, reaching Russia, India and China. In 1866, following the Italian government’s confiscation of the church’s assets, the pharmacy became a state owned enterprise. In spite of this, it managed to remain under the directorship of Cesare Augusto Stefani, nephew of the Officina’s last monastic director. Stefani eventually bought the company name, goodwill and movable assets, and thankfully, four successive generations later, Officina Profumo Farmaceutica Santa Maria Novella continues to be run by members of the family.
Today, the traditional, methodology and natural raw materials of Santa Maria Novella products continue to be used. Technicians apply the artisanal procedures established by their Dominican forefathers, but are helped along by the benefit of sophisticated analysis, research and development carried out in the company’s state of the art laboratories. Traditional and technology merge impeccably together, resulting in products for the body, mind and home that arouse our sense, well-being and a curiosity to learn a little more.
*Please note that our collection of Officina Santa Maria Novella products is available to purchase in store only and not online.