By now everyone knows that I am in love with Florence and spend a lot of time there (with a street in the center of town named after my ancestors. How could I not?). I love the art, culture, architectural beauty, cuisine, etc., etc.
However, what I love most about Florence are all the quirky historical facts that I continue to discover with each visit.
It’s a pretty well known fact (among historians, anyway) that Florentine Catherine de’Medici introduced many things to France when she married King Henry II and became queen. (Like the fork, for instance!!).
Home Fragrance Products
In my quest to discover the perfect scent for my line of home fragrance products I spent a lot of time doing research in my favorite city only to discover that Catherine was also an avid “perfumophile”.
While most people back then bathed with a harsh Castile soap (if they bathed at all!) Catherine had special luxury soaps with her favorite fragrances and essential oils.
A Perfumer Back in the Day
She even had her own perfumer (cleverly named Rene le Florentin) who followed her to France and helped satisfy her addiction to the scents of Renaissance flowers like the ones found today in my fragrance Passeggiata.
He invented many ways for her to carry her perfume around (necklaces, belts, pins). He also worked with local leather tanneries and designed gloves infused with her favorite perfumes. This concept was very useful since back in the 1500’s bathing was not a daily routine.
Therefore, this was Catherine’s way of avoiding ‘unsavory aromas’ when she met with her subjects. (Shake with the right and cover nose with the left! Genius!!)
Catherine wasn’t the only VIP obsessed with fragrance. Back in the Renaissance, aristocrats had their cushions filled with dried flowers and they burned scented tablets or they used sprinklers to hide unwelcome odors in their palazzos (of which there were no doubt many).
Luxury Candles and Diffusers Today
Thankfully today we have luxury candles and diffusers to accomplish the same task.
The rich also used essential oils on their bodies much like we use bath and shower gel today as well as on clothing, wigs, hats and the aforementioned gloves.
The mega rich had their private perfumers changed the essence every day and scents were adjusted according to the seasons! The perfume was everywhere and must have been overwhelming.
Even house pets like dogs and exotic birds were entitled to their own aromatic essence.
I am sure Catherine de’Medici would have had a pair of gloves scented with my fragrance “Passeggiata” by Splendor of Florence to remind her of home! And the run-of-the-mill aristocrats would have been burning my candles and circulating my diffuser around their palazzos.