Santa Maria Novella: Florence 2016: Photo Essay


Post by Portia


Hi there Fragrant Fumies,

Our recent trip was a bit light on the fragrance stops. We really wanted to see what each city is most famous for. While in Florence though Anna-Maria put her dainty foot down. We could look at art & churches all day & night but we had to go to the Santa Maria Novella Basilica which handily combines all three of our interests. It’s a church and cloisters, very old and it has one of the oldest still extant apothecaries/farmaceutica which is now centred around fragrance and tea.

Santa_Maria_Novella Basilica Florence WikipediaWikipedia

The church you can see today was begun in 1279 and was finished around the middle of the 14th century.
Inside it resembles Cistercian gothic churches, the nave separated from the aisles by wide bays and covered with gothic vaulting (Edited from There are some lovely frescoes inside too if you get a chance.

Florenz_Santa_Maria_Novella_Innenraum WikiMediaWikiMedia

Santa Maria Novella: Florence 2016

From the moment you enter Santa Maria Novella shop in Florence you are transported back in time. You are also reminded of the extraordinary amount of money the church has at its disposal. The place is exquisite and we were surprised at how busy, and how much money people were spending. It was like a fragrant feeding frenzy.

Florence 2016 #14

Florence 2016 #21

Florence 2016 #15

Florence 2016 #20I have a set of these tablets keeping my wardrobe pest free and fragrant. They were a gift and my very first Santa Maria Novella. I love them and they are still extremely fragrant years on.

Florence 2016 #19

Florence 2016 #18The homewares section is fabulous. It took ultimate restraint to keep my wallet in my pocket.

Florence 2016 #16

Florence 2016 #23

Florence 2016 #25Anna-Maria and Jin being looked after by the extremely beautiful and helpful SA. I was not going to buy anything but then I spied some smaller bottles which turned out to be soliflore extrais. I tried and fell madly in love with the triple distilled jasmine extrait, the sample I tried which lasted 3 days on my skin through showers and general living. Sadly the product they sold me is gone in about 2 hours, it’s really gorgeous while it lasts though I am disappointed.

Florence 2016 #26Anna-Maria was so sweet and bought Jin & I a set of the soaps as a thank you for sharing our holiday! Woo Hoo! Can’t wait to use them.

Florence 2016 #17

Jasmine Santa Maria Novella 2016Here is the Triple Distilled Jasmine Extrait. I am sad now that I didn’t order tea. Next time.

Florence 2016: Photo Essay

Florence 2016 #1The Duomo is the heart of Florence. It’s free to enter and the floor and dome are gorgeous. You can walk to the cupola up the top but Anna-Maria had done the one in Vienna and that was enough.

interno-duomo Florence visitflorence.comVisitFlorence

duomo-facade Florence visitflorence.comVisitFlorence

Florence 2016 #2All through Europe we lit candles and asked God to bless our friends and family with bountiful lives, peaceful and funfilled.

Florence 2016 #3On the Ponte Vecchio (Old Bridge, no wonder Italian is a romance language) ignoring the jewellery shops but watching the people.

Florence 2016 #4View of the Ponte Vecchio from the next bridge, it was a lovely walk along the river.

Florence 2016 #5

Florence 2016 #6

Florence 2016 #9

Florence 2016 #11Anna-Maria was overcome by David. She needed a few moments to stabilize.

Florence 2016 #8

Florence 2016 #12We caught the local bus up to the Piazzale Michelangelo. A perfect winter day with dappled sunlight over the city. It was a beautiful afternoon and from the bus we saw some amazing parts of Florence that you would otherwise miss.

Florence 2016 #13Anna-Maria had a pre-mixed alcoholic beverage at the lookout. She was so happy.

Florence 2016 #10Our dinner in the hotel was a complete disaster so we decided to go around the corner to the international restaurant of choice for the hungry and weary traveller; McDonalds. YUMMY!

Florence 2016 #28Next night we had the best steak I’ve ever had in my life. The three of us shared 1.2kg of steak cooked to perfection. It came with salads and baked potatoes. OMG! So freaking delicious. If you are Florence you MUST go here and have the Special Florentine Steak.

Florence 2016 #27

Florence 2016 #30

Florence 2016 #29

Florence 2016 #31

I hope you enjoyed a snapshot of our amazing journey through Florence. There is more holiday to come next week.

Have you been to Florence? What is your favourite part?
Portia xx

32 thoughts on “Santa Maria Novella: Florence 2016: Photo Essay

  1. I didn’t get to spend as much time as I would have liked to in Florence, but my sister and I stopped in a family owned bar for something warm to drink as we both had a cold and we were very tired from walking all day. The bartender made up a concoction of warmed blood orange juice and fresh ginger. It was perfect. I’ve tried to recreate the drink at home and it doesn’t taste the same.


    • WOW! That drink sounds interesting Katherine. I bet he added some sugar and booze.
      We said that we could spend a fortnight in Florence and not get bored. 3 nights was not enough.
      Portia xx


  2. Portia, I loved this post so much!!!

    I have been to Florence but that was some 20 years ago and I’m dying to go back after seeing/reading this. You did well to restrain yourself at Santa Maria Novella, I would definitely go into a frenzy. I want all of it.

    What a total let down about your extrait though. What’s going on there?

    Love the Duomo and had no idea Ponte Vecchio means “Old Bridge”, how hilarious.


    • Hey Tara,
      We were missing you like crazy in Florence.
      I’m wondering if the extrait may get stronger as it’s oxidised and given skin? Not sure, loving it though.
      Totally hilarious, Old Bridge. So unromantic in English.
      Portia xx


  3. How exciting your visit to Florence was!
    I have those wax tablets, still fragrant years later.
    We rented an apartment near the Duomo, and my fun was going to the markets and drooling over the fantastic produce there.
    Loved the art and churches.
    Worst was going up the inside of the Duomo with a husband who is terrified of heights…it is one way only, ie UP, and claustrophobic, and really really high.


    • Hey JackieB,
      Both Anna-Maria and I are terrified of heights. We are hilarious in our tragedy. I spend a lot of my time in super safe high places trying to get myself under control but all it means is I’m a sweating, trembling mess.
      Yes, LOVED the markets, art and churches. Every vista bella.
      Portia xx


  4. Oh…. Santa Maria Novella… Stunning. I’ll get there one day!

    Looks like you guys had a fab time!! Thanks for the photo essay, just lovely. πŸ™‚

    xx Tina G


    • Hey TinaG
      It was really fun. It would have been extra fun with you. I’d like to spend a couple of hours there one day, really meet the products and have a cuppa in the coffee shop.
      Glad you liked it.
      Portia xx


  5. So beautiful. I’ve been once, need to go back! Stay for a longer time. I did all the museums and churches. It would be nice to get to the gardens and the shops next time, and just hang out a bit more with the cafes. They are known for their leather goods, Florentine gloves would have been the thing, and then perfume them. Did go to Ste. Maria Novella. They have a Gardenia I am still thinking about, can get it here. Their pomegranite soap is my favorite.


    • Hey there Lucy,
      So many churches and museums, we only hit the tip of the iceberg. We did do a little shopping but mainly on the way to & from food, he he.
      Pomegranate Soap sounds amazing.
      Portia xxx


  6. Portia:
    Your absolute best travelogue EVER! When we were in Florence we weren’t…I didn’t have the strength to go up. We were staying in a Castello in Chianti andwhen we drove up to Firenze I was too sick to handle the effort of going up into the city – aargh!


    • That is a terribly sad story Palmer. So sad. Jin was much the same through much of this holiday, it was heartbreaking to see him suffering while we were doing the things we’d planned and discussed for 12 months. He was a right mess. Still he managed to soldier on and only had 3 days where he took a half day off to rest.
      Portia xx


  7. Wow the art and architecture are so beautiful! What a real shame about the Jasmine extrait – thats *quite* the difference in staying power!! 😦


    • Hey Sun Mi,
      Yes it is but I think it will improve over time as it gets a bit of air and skin into it, adds a little more animalic magic. Let’s see.
      The architecture in Florence is stunning, though in between the highlights is a lot of drab, unlike Venice which is stunning at every turn.
      Portia xx


    • Maggiecat,
      It’s worth the pain of doing without some luxuries for 12 months. You’ll be glad you did.
      Portia xx


    • Hopefully we can meet up in one of these romantic holiday locations Undina and we can share some fun & laughter, food and fragrance.
      Portia x


    • Hey ThinkingMagpie,
      Fingers crossed that you get your wish and that you have an amazing time.
      Portia xx


  8. Still chuckling at the ‘stabilising’ comment…

    I had my picture taken on the Ponte Vecchio at age 17 and again at age 30? wearing the most terrible elasticated waist(!) trousers. I feel I should go back again in a half decent outfit to redress the balance.

    Great pics as ever – you guys have amazing stamina, no question!


    • Hi there Vanessa,
      Anna Maria was completely overcome. It was beautiful.
      Definitely need to get a smart Italian look together. Funny that you mention elastic pants, there has been a resurgence in the style for beautiful young things here in Oz.
      Stamina! Ha! We are a bunch of broken old tourists who couldn’t help but try and fit in as much as possible. It is even more fun that way.
      Portia xx


  9. I’ve been to Florence several times, first visit at age thirteen. It remains one of my most loved cities. SMN is beautiful, the building stunning. Bought a face scrub and handcream. It is possible that I may buy the Opoponax next visit. Pitti in September …….


  10. Ah, again a great photo essay. I enjoy travelling with you. I love Italy in general and what we percieve as “the Italian way of life”, but I’ve never been to Florence. Lorenzo Villoresi has his atelier and shop in a palazzo in Florence and I think I’d choose it over Santa Maria Novella.
    I love the part of lighting candles for friends and family in churches all over Europe πŸ™‚


    • Hey Neva,
      I didn’t know Lorenzo Villoresi was here, though we promised Anna Maria to go to SMN and I think we did the right thing for us. Still, he would be worth a look too,
      Yes, lighting candles was fun. It gave us more purpose.
      Portia xx


  11. Haha Portia, my dainty foot down, yes I did mention it a few times. It was worth it though, as it was around corner from hotel, even better. Yes I was stunned by David, honestly I was so surprised by my reaction, enjoyed every bit of it. Definitely need to return to bella Firenze!!


    • It was good that you did or we would have missed it. I’m so pleased we went in and saw how majestic the place was and all thos amazing fragrances. Yes, we need to go back.
      After the rest of the world….
      Portia xx


  12. Love the pics. This takes me right back there. I adore this city – one of my fav places ever. The Birth Of Venus was amaaaaazing, especially after all of those rooms of dark paintings and finally – the light! x


    • Heya meganinsaintemaxime
      Birth of Venus was amazing. We took our photo off to the side but people were just going up in front of it and completely obscuring the seated lookers view. It was quite rude.
      Botticelli. MMMMMMM
      Portia xx


Comments are closed.