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Venice: where the ‘perfume’ was invented…

venezia perfumes

Not a lot of people know that the perfume, as we know it today, was invented in Venice. Our story begins at the beginning of the XII century when the only way of getting a special fragrance for the body was to use an oily balm (the unguentum) which, however, was not very effective

Yes: in the XII century, if you wanted to get your own special fragrance you had to use a balm, which was produced with fat and oil. These elements were used because of their fatty components which could hold, even if not for long, the aromas of the spices and aromatic woods.

At the time of the big trade travels to the oriental part of the world, the venetian used to bring to Venice aromas, perfumed oils and aromatic essences. Even if the fashion of having the body perfumed was already spread even in Europe, however, the problem remained the one of holding the aroma and to avoid the not very nice feeling of the fat or the oil on the skin.

In Venice, there were a special group of professionals called spezieri. They were supposed to make natural healings form plants and herbs (get your apartment right in the hart of the spezieri area!). However, there were also involved in alchemy and this practice probably led to the idea of diluting for the first time the unguentum with water and acquavite. By doing so, the spezieri gave origin to a liquid moist which had many positive facts: first of all, it was free of the oily scent which inevitably was present in the unguentum. Secondly, the sublimation of the alcoholic part was a good mean to emphasise the scent of the aromatic components (would you like to be near the Ruga degli Spezieri, the area where the spezieri were? Then have a look here!).

An interesting thing to be know is that this process began in Venice many century before France thus giving the primate to the city even on the place which is universally recognised as the native land of perfume.

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