I went to Sevilla in March at the very kind invitation of a friend, who was staying there for a month. I had been to Spain, including Sevilla, in 2002, and what I remembered most was the heavenly smell of the country’s gardens. I have maintained that Spain has the most fragrant gardens in Europe ever since.
In early March spring had definitely sprung but it was not quite full-blown, and neither were the scents. Still, enough wafted out of the greenery to tell me that I was right. Spain still has the most fragrant gardens.
The orange trees of Sevilla are justly famous, although supposedly pollution means that the country has to import fruit to make the famous bitter orange marmalade. The fruits still smell delicious, though, and the trees look so pretty, whether they are lining streets or in an alcazar (a garden designed during the Andalusian caliphate).
I also love the blurring of inside and outside with these courtyards, something you see in France and Italy as well, thanks to the temperate climate.
In my research I discovered there is a natural fragrance boutique in Sevilla, and then I stumbled on it while we were walking around! It was very like the natural perfume boutique in Lisbon–small, lots of glass containers with various top, middle, and base notes–but much, much friendlier. The kindly proprietress sprayed some samples on us and I ended up buying one called “45.” That number apparently symbolized some important dates in Spanish history, but I’m afraid my Spanish language skills were not good enough to catch all of it.
I don’t know that I’ll wear it a lot but a few sniffs now and then bring me back to Spain. Same with the bottle of Agua de Naranjos de Sevilla, a wonderfully fresh citrus-green scent in the cologne style. Orange blossoms in fact inspired the first colognes and such relatively simple scents are perfect for summer, when the heat makes heavy and extremely complex fragrances less desirable. In fact, it’s perfect for days like today, an extremely hot and sunny one here in Chicago (90 degrees at 5 PM as I write this)!
Spanish people seem to be aware of this cultural heritage. I took an early-morning connecting flight from Sevilla to Madrid and while waiting in line, I realized it was the best-smelling airport experience I’d ever had. The (mostly male) flyers’ mingled scents of cologne or aftershave or whatever made the lack of organization in boarding almost unnoticeable. Truly a testament to the power of fragrance.