The heart of the museum is the Osmorama room, the fragrance library that hosts virtually all the ingredients a perfumer might ever use.
A bit of history
Museo Villoresi, the palazzo of Via de Bardi.
Parts of a Roman wall, on which a number of residences were built in the Middle Ages, can still be seen on the basement floor of the building. Restoration works have uncovered torch holders, wall-mounted metal rings for tying horses and stone flooring slabs from the old warehouses. Between the XVII and the XVIII centuries, neighboring houses were joined to make a single palazzo, with lounges featuring paneled ceilings and the addition of an elegant loggia in the internal courtyard connecting to the beautiful terrace overlooking the River Arno. Other restoration works followed, and in more recent years the ground floor and a part of the piani nobili (the main floors) housed a school. For many years the medieval cellars were home to Lorenzo Villoresi’s first workshop, until radical restoration works returned the rooms to their original states and the perfume museum project was set in motion. These works included the recovery and restoration of the fresco in the Sala della Musa room, where the boutique is now located. Meanwhile, the courtyard and terrace now make up the aromatic plant garden, which completes the museum itinerary with a themed botanical collection.
Via de Bardi
The original route of this ancient road joins a stretch of Via Cassia Nuova, which was commissioned by Emperor Hadrian in 123 AD to allow access to the city from the side of the Ponte Vecchio.
Throughout the Middle Ages this neighborhood was a small village on the outskirts of the city. Travelers would rest here and there was even a hospital near the ancient church of Santa Lucia de’ Magnoli, whose most famous visitor was Saint Francis of Assisi in 1211. The Bardi, a famous Florentine banking family, owned much of the property in the area until it was destroyed by fire during the civil war of 1343. The nearby hill was extremely susceptible to landslides. Indeed, in 1565 Cosimo de Medici banned any construction on the site following a tragic landslide involving the young Bernardo Buontalenti, who luckily escaped unscathed. In later years the famous Nasi and Del Nero families lived in the area. The Del Nero commissioned the construction of the important Palazzo Del Nero, now known as the Palazzo Torrigiani. Many buildings, storehouses and warehouses were annexed to the palazzo and could be reached from the river (the Arno embankments we see today didn’t exist at that time).