While I visited Florence when on holiday in Cinque Terre last year, I was determined to visit the shop and convent of Santa Maria Novella. The last time I’d been was more than ten years ago and I had fallen in love with the peaceful tranquility of the convent’s court yard, oddly quiet despite it being located next to one of the busiest junctions in Florence.
This time the shop proved really hard to find, however — even with my phone’s GPS — as it had moved from the piazza in front of the convent to the street parallel from the flat where we were staying. How hard can life be, right?
When I finally found the shop entrance, half hidden by some road work, the entrance hall was breathtakingly beautiful and called for a Kodak moment! Every ceiling and most walls in the shop were painted with wonderful murals and there was even a few rooms devoted to displaying old apothecary items from the convent, like a museum.
I came on a mission with a long shopping list from a friend (who I had sent to the shop to buy me something the previous year, and since had become hooked herself) and quite an open mind for myself. I finally managed to select a couple of gorgeously scented soaps in addition to the aloe gel featured in the photograph above.
The aloe gel is one of those handy products that can be used for almost anything, much like Arden’s Eight Hour Cream and Cicaplast (La Roche-Posay). It is very good at healing and cooling down sunburn (a frequent occurence while on holiday in Italy, I’m afraid) and also to moistures your face and body. Needless to say, it work like a dream, smells wonderful and comes in a chic minimalist bottle with a pretty vintage-looking label.
I should warn you that Santa Maria Novella’s products don’t come cheap. To make them seem extra exclusive, the products in the shop aren’t priced. You feel a bit foolish asking the price of each and every item, but please ensure you do so you have money left for pistacchio e nocciola gelato and Chianti Classico DOCG. Despite their high price, the products are like exotic dreams in little bottles, made to pleasure.