Scents evoke memories: as science tells us, the sense of smell is the one that lingers in the brain the longest, and it can trigger powerful recollections, especially emotional ones. The smells of a destination are often all that remain of a trip. Today, we want to embark on a virtual journey across the unique fragrances of Italy. We know that the one thing you cannot do in a virtual journey is smell, but we hope that our olfactory tour will ignite wonderful memories if you have already visited Italy – or provide you with useful, inspiring tips for when you will be able to travel!
Chocolate in Turin
Did you know that Turin is the birthplace of the chocolate bar? The city’s chocolate-making tradition goes as far back as 1560. The local, innovative maestros discovered that they could transform chocolate into solid bars, and gave life to cioccolatini like bon bons, pralines, truffles and cremini. Piedmont’s capital is full of artisanal chocolate shops, including historical ones like Cioccolateria Peyrano, which was founded in 1915 by forefather Antonio and has been handed down from generation to generation. Once you enter it, you will never forget the unique scent of homemade chocolate!
The Canals in Venice
Venice’s Canals are iconic for their beauty and history. One common myth about them is that they always smell bad. But, the canals tend to smell during the low tide or occasionally during the summer. Whether you like the smell or not, it’s unmistakable! And it will trigger all the wonderful feelings that this historical art city ignites in any visitor thanks to its awe-inspiring architecture and striking artworks.
Coffee in Trieste
Yes, we know: the all-pervading aroma of coffee is a characteristic of Italy in its entirety. But if you want to dive deep into the world of coffee, you should visit Trieste, also known as La Città del Caffè (the city of coffee). Its legacy started in the 18th century when it became a free port and received coffee beans from all over the world. Coffee houses began to open all over the city… and many still exist today! For example, Caffé Tommaseo operates since 1830, while other historic places include Caffe Degli Specchi and San Marco. Trieste Coffee Festival is usually held every year in November.
Florence’s 800-year-old apothecary
Officina Profumo – Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella was established by Dominican monks after their arrival in Florence in 1221. One you step inside, you are engulfed by a potent fragrance of flowers and spices. One scent that you can never forget once you smell it, is that of Santa Maria Novella’s potpourri: it is meticulously handmade using ancient methods, and each batch of organic herbs and flowers is collected by hand and fermented in centuries-old terra cotta jars for months before the potpourri is ready to be released
The Amalfi Coast between Lemons and Handmade Paper
Do you know what handmade paper smells like? Amalfi is home to authentic places where you can discover the history and characteristics of the local bambagina, which is a thick, soft, elegant paper appreciated by artists around the world. Make sure to visit the Museum of Handmade Paper and the operational paper mill of Cartiera Amatruda. And along all of the Amalfi Coast, including the towns of Sorrento and Salerno, you will be greeted by the pungent scent of the yellow, bright lemons that are cultivated in the typical terraced gardens!
Zagara: Sicily’s Orange Blossom
Orange trees thrive in Sicily, and especially in the area around Mount Etna thanks to the fertile volcanic soil. When visiting the mesmerizing town of Taormina or other villages around the island, you will notice the delicate fragrance of the orange flower (zagara in Sicilian), particularly in the months of April and May. These beautiful little white flowers are used to make perfumes and their essence is also used to prepare certain desserts.
Myrtle in Sardinia
Whether you are visiting Alghero in the north or Cagliari in the south, Sardinia has one distinctive scent thanks to the small myrtle bushes that grow almost everywhere on the rocks of the island. Known as mirto in Italian, this plant was already used in ancient times for its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. Today, its flowers are used mainly as a fragrance for perfumes, while its berries and leaves are at the heart of the popular Mirto liquor.