Located inside an important sixteenth-century building, the Villoresi Museum in Florence is a sensory journey into the most refined and cultured art of perfumery, among exotic flowers, extremely rare essences, and suggestions of fascinating worlds.
If perfume is above all memory and emotion, as you could discover walking through the Villoresi Museum, a visit to this special and unique place is like a journey through yourself and the history of the world. Interactive stations and scientific insights lead the visitor to discover a universe, that of perfume, which starts from the raw material to become essence through secret alchemical processes.
Lorenzo Villoresi, today one of the most prestigious creators of fragrances in the world, was born in Tuscany into a family with a cosmopolitan DNA that includes explorers, artists and gentlemen of fortune among its members. In the eighties, during a trip to Cairo, Villoresi fell in love with oriental essences and spices, discovering a passion for the art of perfume. This led him within a few years to leave a promising academic career to entirely devote himself to the creation of refined fragrances. In 1990 he opened his Maison in Florence and the excellence of his extraordinary creations conquered the international jet set, leading him in 2006 to be the first and only Italian to receive the prestigious Prix François Coty, known as the “Oscar of Perfumery”.
To understand the excellence of his work, just think that he uses up to 100 different essences to create a single fragrance!
A sweet smell spreads everywhere inside this beautiful place: they always pour on various perfumes on the altars of the gods, on the plain that shines far away.(Pindaro, greek poet)
It is said that it was Caterina de’ Medici, daughter of the Duke of Urbino Lorenzo de’ Medici and queen consort of France, who started the fashion of using personalized fragrances in the European courts of the sixteenth century. She had in fact the habit of perfuming the leather gloves she used to go horse riding. The story goes that when the young woman moved from Florence to the Court of France she also brought her personal perfumer, Renato Bianco, with her. At the time, the use of perfume was widespread among noblewomen, so much so that, in the convents of the major Italian cities, there was at least one alchemist friar dedicated to the processing of herbs and flowers for the creation of perfumes.
Among original films, myths and legends, the heart of the exhibition is undoubtedly Osmorama: a catalogue of more than 1000 both ancient and modern aromatic ingredients which you can be smelled and tried. Next, we find a room displaying an interactive map, that allows you to view the origins of the most particular ingredients, such as the very precious orris rhizome, as well as a space dedicated to the discovery of the various families of fragrances to figure out what are your favorites.
The museum is located in the basement of the building, the historic family residence, which was built between the 17th and 18th centuries on a Roman-era layout and embellished by an elegant loggia in the internal courtyard connected to the panoramic terrace overlooking the Lungarno. The garden and terraces host a wonderful collection of flowers and aromatic plants from all over the world.
The creation of the museum was curated by the Lorenzo Villoresi team in collaboration with the architect Luigi Franco and the contribution of various experts for the interactive parts and scientific insights, while the garden of aromatic plants is curated by Ludovica Villoresi. There are therefore many “secrets” which, by the will of the Maison, can only be discovered by visiting the exhibition itinerary and which will make you enchanted by this complex and fascinating world.
In the same location as the museum there is also the Villoresi boutique, characterized by an important eighteenth-century fresco that decorates the vault, discovered during the renovation of the building. Here it is possible to purchase the Maison’s fragrance collections, candles and perfumed essences for the rooms.
Lorenzo Villoresi also offers the possibility of creating a completely personalized perfume based on one’s personality and tastes. The meeting with the Master perfumer takes place privately inside his studio on the main floor of the building, a truly unique experience.
In nature, there are fragrances characterized by a wonderful scent which, however, cannot be translated into an extract capable of replicating their complexity. In particular, there are some flowers called the “impossible flowers”, including gardenia, honeysuckle, wisteria, lily of the valley, lilac and hyacinth: the richness of their perfume in nature is therefore reconstructed thanks to the experience and artistic interpretation of perfumers.
Ticket: from 10 euro
Guided tours Monday to Saturday, from 10 to 16, by reservation only