I went to Rome in October, and although I hadn’t been back for eight years, I instantly felt like I had arrived back home. I traced my steps back to some favorite spots, including the Galleria Borghese, where I gawped anew at Bernini’s sculptural genius, as well as some new-to-me spots, like the Palazzo Barberini, an often ignored museum that houses Raphael’s radiant La Fornarina. One of my favorite destinations was the Parco degli Acquedotti, a massive park with the crumbling remains of some of the giant acqueducts that crisscrossed the Italian countryside to bring fresh water to Rome. With pretty much zero park infrastructure, you are free to simply wander around, enjoying not only the ruins, which reminded me of prehistoric stone formations, but the sights, sounds, and smells of the vanishing Roman campagna.
I don’t know if Rome itself has a distinctive scent. If I had to choose one, I’d probably say diesel! I did notice, as I did in Sevilla, that people smelled very nice, and even though the city is dotted with perfume boutiques selling heavy mainstream designer perfumes, they seemed to mostly be very pleasant and subtle scents. Perhaps that’s because they bought their perfume at Esenzialmente Laura.
This natural perfume boutique features the 43 fragrances created by Laura Bosetti Tonatto. She wasn’t there when I went, so instead I tested out some of them under the somewhat intimidating eye of her loyal salesperson, Elena, who actually turned out to be very friendly and informative.
The fragrances are grouped into seven main categories: Hespéridée (citrus), Floral, Fougère, Chypre, Boisée (woody), Amber, and Leather. I knew I wouldn’t be able to try them all, so I stuck to the fougere, chypre, and woody scents. I liked Pepé, with notes of pepper and orange, but Elena warned me people had told her it tended to wear off quickly. So, after much back-and-forth and hemming and hawing, I finally decided to also get Indaco, with top notes of sandalwood and bergamot.
While she was ringing me up Elena told me about Laura, who she said was a genius but, I gathered, perhaps not the best at publicity, so she was excited when I said I would write about the store. Elena also got on my good side when, after asking where I was from, said, “Ah, Chicago, a beautiful city.” I said it was pretty rare to hear that from Europeans, and she said, “Why, because of the weather?” Then she asked if I was an architect. Chicago is known for its architecture, but I am only an admirer, of course!
After wearing these scents for several weeks, I really like them. They are more subtle than I would normally wear, but sometimes you want a perfume that is more of a personal experience than a statement. The Indaco, although clearly a woody scent, nevertheless has something almost marine and astringent about it. The Pepé is indeed quite light, and so I’ve been layering the two. The result is a woody, spicy fragrance with a pronounced citrus, almost lemony tang.
Of course when I wear them I am brought back to Rome, which more than ever I feel is my second home. I feel so much myself there that I found myself wondering how I could live there again. I’m not willing to completely rebuild my life to do it at this point, but perhaps there’s a path yet to be found for my return.
Via del Coronari, 57
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