The journey across the boutique’s fifty-five fragrances awakens the sense of smell and appeal to ancestral olfactory memories
Walking down Via dei Coronari, in Rome, one can feel the antiquity of this street flanked with 15th and 16th-century buildings that connect piazza Navona to the Vatican City. The name of the street dates back to the Middle Ages, when it housed dozens of workshops where the coronari (rosary-makers in Italian) sold religious accessories and items to the pilgrims on their way to St. Peter’s Basilica. Today, Via dei Coronari sees its millenary history reflected in the perfumery at building number 57: Essenzialmente Laura.
Essenzialmente Laura was founded in 2015 by renowned master perfumer Laura Bosetti Tonatto, the crowning achievement of a career focused on studying and expressing the bond between art, history, and perfumery. Laura spent thirty years traveling around the world, and every country left an olfactory impression in her. She handpicked over three-thousand natural essences, some of which are unique — like the rose of Taif, which only grows on a highland in Saudi Arabia thanks to the area’s drastic temperature variations.
In 2015, Laura felt the need to inaugurate a place to treasure her experiences and share her expertise. That’s how Essenzialmente Laura came to life: an experimental space where both experts and novices can refine their knowledge with state-of-the-art perfumery technology and a range of natural and synthesized ingredients. In a few years, this sanctuary of scent has been elected the best artisan shop in Rome.
The name of the boutique is a reference to the essences which Laura combines to create her perfumes, but also to the essentiality of her design. On the wooden shelves, where scent bottles line up as far as the eye can see, two colors capture the gaze: grey and red. The grey labels give a certain pharmaceutical aesthetic to the scent bottles, describing the product and allowing the public to learn its properties and characteristics, while Laura’s red signature stands out as a mark of her drive.
At Essenzialmente Laura, visitors begin a journey through scents: the fifty-five fragrances — with accents ranging from citrus to sandalwood, from amber to leather — awaken the sense of smell and appeal to ancestral olfactory memories. During the free tour offered by the store, visitors can witness the phases of perfume creation, retrace the history of perfumery and sample scents inspired by literature, cinema, art, and music.
Peeping out from behind the glass bottles on the shelves, and decorating the drapery in the background of the shop, the many portraits of Mary Magdalene remind the visitors of the connection between this place and history. Mary Magdalene, the woman who perfumed the body of Jesus and saint protectress of perfumers, has been portrayed throughout the centuries by Caravaggio, Titian, Guido Reni, El Greco, Artemisia Gentileschi, and Perugino, and was chosen by Laura as the guardian angel of her boutique.
According to the Gospels, the saint’s iconographic ointment bottle contained nard oil, which can only be extracted from a Himalayan aromatic plant — the Nardostachys jatamansi. To celebrate her figure, Laura created the perfume Nardo della Maddalena as part of the collection I Profumi della Bibbia, entirely inspired by the sacred scriptures.
Essenzialmente Laura has received a commission from the Vatican itself: Laura created the Musei Vaticani collection to capture the sacredness of the Vatican Museums in three fragrances. Ethnos, composed of leather, wood, and honey scents, was inspired by the Ethnological selection of the Museums. I Giardini is a combination of roses and jasmine, to reproduce the fragrances of the Vatican Gardens. Terra Marique combines flowers, woods, and meadow with the breath of the sea, as a homage to the Gallery of Geographic Maps in the Vatican Museums.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, Essenzialmente Laura did not cease all activities. The laboratory remained open every day, and Laura Bosetti Tonatto started a production of high quality alcohol-based sanitizers. For the time being, it is mandatory to wear a mask in the shop, therefore, in order to fully enjoy the fragrances, visitors are brought in the street just outside the boutique, where they can experience the perfumes in the open air.