We usually go to Italy in the early fall around our anniversary, because that's where the Blond and I have spent our honeymoon. Three years ago we went in early April, and it was decidedly different. The light, the taste of the air, they were abuzz in anticipation, even though the weather itself was on the very cool side most days. We stayed mostly on the Amalfi coast which was bursting with ripe lemons and oranges, yards and gardens were green and lush (it rained a lot), and the flower boxes in every window were as I've remembered them, blooming with geraniums that seem to be there all year long (how do they do it?). We also bought perfume when a Sorento store was clearing out old stockrooms (vintage!!!) as well as lines that weren't moving fast enough. It was glorious.
Here are my ten(ish) picks for Italian perfumes that evoke visiting that gorgeous country in the spring. All chosen with love and longing.
1. Bois 1920 Extreme is a modern fougere. Green with a twist, a tonka base, which is the thing to wear if you're sitting in the garden of one of those stunning Florence villas that are now open to public.
2. I obviously had to pick something by Eau d'Italie because their perfumes are incredibly evocative. While my personal favorites are not necessarily the spring ones, you cannot skip Jardin du Poete. That is spring, and that is Italy. As I'm sitting here looking at my backyard which is full of snow I fee an urge to dig through my samples and find it. Bring on the flowers.
3-4. Never skipping an opportunity to honor the Florentine iris let's go with one of the prettiest (and more elusive), Iris by Hilde Soliani. Also, let's not forget her Il Tuo Tulipano, as it's as spring-like as it gets and can lift the gloom in an instant. A must-have, really.
5. You don't need me to tell you that Italian coffee bars are a staple across the country all year round. I'm not much of a coffee drinker but when in Italy even I will have an espresso and try to people-watch (the suits!) while doing so. Milano Cafe by AbdesSalaam Attar of La Via del Profumo (www.profumo.it) is that. It's more of a four season perfume, but the burst of energy it gives you is all spring.
6. I've had a tab open on my laptop for weeks with a draft for a review of Aristoqrati by Moresque, one of my favorite perfumes in the last several months. The Italian brand is mostly inspired by Middle Eastern perfumery, but the overflowing geranium note on all its facets (rosy, sappy, peppery, and that scent you get on your hands if you've been rubbing and squeezing the juicy green leaves between your fingers) is all Italy and sunshine.
7. (7a, 7b, 7c)No Italian perfume list will ever be complete without Acqua di Parma, it's only a matter of choosing, and my imagination carries me away whenever I start. We talked Iris, and Iris Nobile is lovely, as are the various iterations of Colonia Assoluta, because of all those amazing citrus groves you find seemingly everywhere (at least from Rome south). But it's the blue series of coastal scents and tastes that makes an extra balmy spring day feel like a prelude to vacation. My personal favorites are Cipresso di Toscana, Fico di Amalfi (more late summer than spring, but FIG), and Ginepro di Sardegna.
8. I still can't forgive myself for not visiting the grounds and museum of Santa Maria Novella in Florence back in 1996. I would have came back with my weight in perfume and body products and a new passion for non-mainstream perfumes. But which one is the most spring-like, considering my husband favors Peau d'Espagne while I'm partial to Nostalgia? The answer is the delicate Violetta, with its tender leaves and soft purple petals. Soon they'll bloom in my garden. Soon.
9. One of my all-time spring picks is and has always been the vintage version (as old as one can find) of the classic Lauren. The unique blend of violets and tagetes, crisp and sharp, suggests spring with every whiff. It's one of my favorite perfumes of all time and I have a semi-lifetime supply, but I've vowed not to include impossible-to-find perfumes in these lists. Besides, it's not an Italian perfume, so let's move on. But Italian brand Profumum Roma offers us the lovely Tagete, again, an impression of an Italian villa's gardens, probably at dusk, when the imagination starts flying.
10. I'm still waiting for a burst of springtime energy to propel me into the stratosphere (or to finish laundry. Whatever comes first). In the meantime I've been faking it with Il Profumo Ginger, a mix of ginger and good soap that feels as clean as the fresh morning air on the first day of vacation, when you're eager to go and see what's waiting around the corner.
Wishing you plenty of daffodils and tulips this spring. Please visit m friends at Bois de Jasmin, Grain de Musc, and Now Smell This for their spring picks. What are yours?
Art: Galileo Chini, La Primavera, 1914