Pitti Fragraze Florence — Before the Beginning

Posted by
Sarah Colton
 September 9, 2016

Photo courtesy of Pitti Fragranze


Florence, like a fine and beloved fragrance, is above all else a sensual and emotional experience.  Something about a subtle blend of orange blossoms, hibiscus flowers, and geranium notes wafts on the gentlest of breezes from the surrounding hills, meanders along the Arno among the tiled roofs of Renaissance splendor, and leads ineluctably to a place of trance-like dreams and memories.  So, it’s not surprising that Pitti Fragranze (9 to 11 September 2016)  with its more than 270  artistic niche perfume  brands from around the world, attracts an intensely dosed draught of irredeemable perfumistas and dreamers to its alleys and ways each September.  And like these dreamers, I’ve returned to Pitti Fragranze every year since I first inhaled its rare and inebriating ether 5 years ago.





Whether experienced from the intimate balcony of a rooftop studio overlooking the Duomo, a family owned palazzo within steps of the Officina Profumo – Farmaceutica of Santa Maria Novella, or, as I sit now, on the bowered terrace of the Hotel Tornabuoni Beacci, Florence is a transformative experience, where even the most mundane of moments become the stuff of legend.


Immediately upon crossing the Alps on the Air France-Alitalia flight from Paris, I know I’m entering another world.  Even at altitude the curves of green Tuscan hills are unapologetically voluptuous, as they flaunt their stately palazzos, ordered olive groves, and the provocative sparkle of a river.


Only moments after touch down, it seems, I’m so distracted by the music of my taxi driver’s voice as he chats incessantly on his cell phone to various lovers (certainly!), that it’s only when he raises his voice and turns around in his seat that I realize he’s speaking to me.  “The aroma of your fragrance is intoxicating, Signora,” he’s saying. In an instant, I realize with momentary despair that the sample bottle of Aether’s Rose Alcane, given to me the night before by brand owner Nicolas Chabot at the NOSE Scent Bar party in Paris, has spilled in my handbag.  Although I can’t fully understanding the nuances of my driver’s words, it’s manifestly clear from his tone and body language that the he is ardently proposing marriage to me, or something even more wildly singular, and declaring that we must pull over pronto and subito, presumably at the next traffic island, to move forward with this now desperately urgent proposition.



In what peculiarly seems to be only seconds later, I experience the briefest moment of reality as the taxi pulls up in front of the hotel and my feet touch the ground — only to be carried off and hopelessly lost again as I’m engulfed in the dream of rarified elegance in the hotel lobby, the bellman, and my intimate 4th floor room with the window giving on to a terrace.  Moments later I taste my first cappuccino in the garden of the same terrace, and drink in the fragrant air and the peals of church bells.


Beyond all doubt, I have tumbled down one of the most compelling rabbit holes on the Face of the Earth.   And the story has only just begun….

















  1. Nancy |

    We are going to be in Florence next week and I could only hope for such an experience! I on the other hand will be traveling with 3 grand daughters trying to keep them interested in what the tour guide has to say!

    • Sarah Colton |

      Sorry I’ll miss you by just a week. If you get a chance, take your people for dinner on the terrace of the Aurora Restaurant in Fiesole (20 min. taxi ride up the mountain from Florence — beautiful view especially recommend it at night. Gelatti after dinner across the square.

  2. Kathryn |

    I wish you lots of fun in Florence and at Pitti Fragranze !! I hope you will discover a lot of new perfumes for really bad girls which will inspire you! Can’t wait for the stories being continued!

  3. Judith Bell |

    Thank you, loved reading your post, so poetic, romantic, it makes one dream…have a wonderful time you Bad Girl you! xox

  4. Cleopatra |

    Well, Nicolas dis say his new fragrances were addictive!! Enjoy and don’t do anything I wouldn’t do!!

  5. Richard Fox |

    If you have time, go to the rooftop bar of the Hotel Lucchese for a drink and view.

    • Sarah Colton |

      Thanks for this tip, Richard. Haven’t tried the rooftop bar at Hotel Lucchese yet. Maybe tonight. Meanwhile, last night was at the bar on the rooftop of the Hotel Westin Excelsior. Love the Italian tradition of offering anti-pasti buffet to accompany cocktails. A year ago at Pitti I also visited the terrace atop the Hotel Continental, which has an elevator with a cushy sofa(!) on the way up. That alone is worth the trip, depending, of course, upon who you’re with…. (Will see if I can include an elevator photo on FB page. — breathtaking view of Florence also NOT bad. All these places are extremly close to heaven. Anybody with other recommendations?

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