The oldest operating pharmacy is the Santa Maria Novella Pharmacy located in Florence, Italy. The pharmacy was founded in 1221 by the same friars who were responsible for the construction of the first majestic basilica in Florence. The monks began growing herbs to make balm, salves and medicines for their infirmary and in the 17th century, the pharmacy opened its doors to the public.
Today the pharmacy is a luxury apothecary and still carries using the original 800-year-old recipes of the monks. The interior is so luxurious and decadent that just setting foot inside is a unique experience and one of the leading historic attractions in Florence, Italy.
Over the last 30 years, the pharmacy has focused its efforts on offering the Santa Maria Novella products in every major city in Italy as well as shops throughout the world, including the US, Panama, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and South Africa. One of the most popular items are its soaps which are cooled, wrapped, and ventilated for 30 days on wooden racks before they are chiseled and molded by hand.
2,000 people or so visit the shop daily to see the store which occupies a former chapel, with allegorical frescoes of the four continents painted by Paolino Sarti on the breathtaking vaulted ceilings.
The shop features a full range of medicaments and elixirs, foods including biscuits, chocolate, tea, and honey, and the pharmacy’s famous liqueurs like Alchermes and Liquore Mediceo. An onsite museum contains ceramic and earthenware jars from the 16th and 17th centuries, historic soap machines, and traditional tools.
Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella operates a retail store on Lafayette Street in New York City and has taken advantage of technology by selling its products on its website: https://buy.smnovella.com/about. They offer many fine bath products, skin care and perfumes made with many of the original old-world Italian recipes.