Personalized Perfumes at San Simone

The fragrance of an essential oil is about more than just its scent.  It is chemistry, and Dr. Fernanda Russo, creator of an independent perfume line, has the nose for the business.

At her renowned San Simone Pharmacy, originally opened at the beginning of the 1700s, Russo uses over 500 types of plants for herbal teas, fragrances and other preparations in her own line of all-natural products as not only medicines and health-promoting agents, but also self-enhancing fragrances.

Believing that a scent can trigger a memory, Russo has created distinct fragrances reflecting the aromas of the city she now calls home. These perfumes, which recall the antique atmosphere of Florence, are named for its most ancient and picturesque streets.

Via Maggio is a flowery combination of irises, violets and roses that mirrors the annual blooms in the Oltrarno neighborhoods. Via della Ninna mixes fresh orange blossom with lavender, amber and talcum powder, to create a personal feminine favorite. Via Tornabuoni, dedicated to Florence’s revered Medici, blends the vetiver grass with amber and amber wood in a strong masculine scent.

“Originally, I started creating fragrances as a type of ‘game,’ using trial and error to perfect a scent, and along the way the ‘game’ became a passion,” she says.

“I have to play a lot to find the right scent for a person” says Russo, “and to do so, sometimes I suggest layering simple scents to create an even more unique perfume.”

As an inspired artist, Russo has recently begun to teach courses on fragrance design at her shop, during which she shares with clients her knowledge of the various notes of the olfactory pyramid and how to build their own personalized perfumes.

“Each scent is individual with its own voice,” says Russo. Her method of perfume making is a true art that requires trial and error, but results in beautifully unique and natural creations. For more information, visit  (nicole chalifoux)