The Dream of the Apothecary

Antique apothecary staged in the shop window of Luca,  Florence.

One of the many inspiring artisan shops in the Oltrarno district of Florence is the unique and fascinating design atelier of  Luca  (via de Serragli 16r.)   I snapped these shots last May when the front of the shop was filled with the above fantastic scene from an apothecary's dream.  Any time you get to Florence, please go visit Luca and see what wonderful moody stories are being played out among the furniture creations, art, and vintage treasures.

matching containers filled with magic
Yes, I stared at this vitrine every time I passed; during those weeks we were staying just across the street; yes, 12 times a day I would estimate, silently calculating the cost of shipping this entire thing home,  visualizing my ebonized  wunderkammer kitchen - or is it my workshop?-  with carrara counters, brass pulls, matching canisters.  Oh, yes.  

Florence, as you might know, is full of wonderous speziale, historic shops specializing in remedies, spices, herbs and teas, and other ingredients like catechu or borax, medicinal elixirs, fragrances, pigments, or other esoteric powders and potions, often displayed in ancient glass-fronted cabinets. 
The oldest of these, Officina Profumo Farmaceutica Santa Maria Novella which has medieval roots, and  Farmacia SS Annunziata  founded in 1561, now create gorgeous herbal and fragrant products.  AquaFlor is a lovely fragrance shop built on this legacy and of course the amazing D'Alessandro Bizzarri truly carries on the speziale tradition with everything from tea and dried fruits to raw pigments and photography chemicals, to poisons and explosives (see my previous post about this shop.)

How would you set up your apothecary?  Would you fill it with reagent bottles, tins, or perhaps colorful maiolica jars?



  1. The first time I entered Sennelier in Paris and saw that wall of apothecary jars full of wonderful things like alum flakes, rottenstone and other potions, I knew I was in heaven. Yes! I also would love a wall , or (sigh) a room of worn wood displays with rows of apothecaries. Let me know if you want to split shipping costs!

    1. I might just paint all my cabinets black. But I'd so so love to rip it all out and do this instead. Dump all my breakfast cereals and rice and so forth into big jars. and of course all the spices!


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