February 25, 2011

Santa Maria Novella

A true delight for the senses is Santa Maria Novella in Antwerp.  The young Italian man who runs the place moved to Antwerp 8 years ago to study at the Fashion Academy. He explains that the story of his store goes way back. The ‘casa madre’ in Firenze, as he calls it, was originally a pharmacy founded by Dominican friars shortly after 1221, the year of their arrival in Florence. The pharmacy used medicinal herbs grown in the monastic gardens to make medications, balms and pomades for the monks' infirmary. It was in full operation as a commercial establishment by the mid 16th century.  It is said that the products are still manufactured based on the centuries-old techniques used by the Dominican friars.  The shop exudes elegance and good taste. The visitor comes out smelling like clover, sandalwood, citrus, bergamot or as their favorite soap, pomegranate.

Santa Maria Novella
Augustijnenstraat 39
2000 Antwerp