Heaven Scent

Florence, Italy’s Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella is one of the oldest pharmacies in the world. Originally founded by Dominican friars in the 1200s as a pharmacy for their various medications and balms, it soon garnered acclaim from the city’s most prestigious citizens for its unforgettable fragrances. Among its most notable customers was Caterina de Medici, the Florence-born Queen of France whose Acqua della Regina perfume became the rage around the world after her subjects inhaled the intoxicating aroma. Today, the perfumery still exists, and all who enter are immediately immersed in this historic fragrance haven filled with perfumes, soaps, lotions, potions, and more, making it a must-visit spot on any tourist’s Italian agenda. The Spa at Four Seasons Hotel Firenze, another gem in the city’s vast treasure trove of sites that should not be missed, combines the aromatic appeal of Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella, whose products are used in the treatments, with an enticing location in a Renaissance garden. “It’s an oasis in the heart of wonderful Florence,” says Patrizio Ciollini, general manager of the hotel.

The 8,500-square-foot, two-story spa is nestled within the hotel’s 11-acre Giardino della Gherardeca, which is filled with meandering paths, flowing fountains, and colorful flora. Designed by Pierre Yves Rochon, it is an opulent escape complete with art, shimmering mosaics, and stunning views. The main spa building features nine elegant treatment rooms named for the flowers that can be seen from the window. An adjacent building houses the secluded Grand Spa couples’ suite, which includes two treatment tables, a lounge area with a bath, and garden views through floor-to-ceiling windows. The spa is also the site of the hotel’s outdoor pool, where healthy spa fare and beverages can be enjoyed pre- and post-plunge during the summer. “The spa is located in the biggest private garden in town, and it’s the only true complete, private spa in the center of Florence,” says spa director Lucia Papalini.

While the spa itself is an architectural work of art, its true masterpiece is the comprehensive menu filled with one-of-a-kind treatments. According to Papalini, The Spa at Four Seasons Hotel Firenze is the only one in the world to feature Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella products, which are made with herbs and flowers that grow on the hillsides surrounding Florence. The spa’s two signature treatments are inspired by the iconic iris florentina, which is the emblem of the city. IriSensationS ($420, 2 hours 15 minutes) includes a spritz of floral water, an iris powder scrub, a restorative arnica body wrap, and a massage using herbal oils perfumed with iris root concrete, while IrisEmotionS ($420, 2 hours 15 minutes) includes an iris powder exfoliation, an almond paste mask, and a massage.


Other services that honor the bounty of the picturesque region are the Chianti Relax ($165, 50 minutes; $205, 75 minutes), a massage using Chianti grape extracts, and the Tuscan Cypress Scrub ($205, 50 minutes), which incorporates Tuscan cypress nuts and oils. Additionally, massages can be performed using one of four oil blends created exclusively for the spa by Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella, including Spring, a floral fragrance; a citrusy Summer scent; a spicy Autumn blend; and Winter, a warm herbal aroma.

“When I was creating the menu, I asked myself what I would have expected if I was a tourist in Tuscany,” says Papalini. “They want to be pampered and to experience relaxation while immersed in the scents of Tuscany. That is what we provide.”


OWNERS: Corrado and Marcello Fratini

SPA DIRECTOR: Lucia Papalini

OPENED: June 2008

55% female; 45% male

U.S., UK, Russia


8,500 square feet; 10 treatment rooms


aromatherapy, body treatments, chromatherapy, couples’ treatments, energy work, facials, fitness, guided meditation, hand and foot treatments, makeup application, massage, nailcare, nutrition consultation, outdoor treatments, Pilates, salon services, scalp treatments, waxing, yoga

IriSensationS ($420, 2 hours 15 minutes and IrisEmotionS ($420, 2 hours 15 minutes)

Honeymooners Spa Suite Package ($615 per person, 3 hours 15 minutes), which includes facials, massages, and body treatments for two

Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella, OPI


Oakworks, TAC Spa & Activities Software, Technogym

Pierre Yves Rochon (Paris)


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