The Museum of Perfume, inside Palazzo Mocenigo in the Santa Croce Sestiere, is one of Venice’s most wonderful surprises.
The old, aristocratic building – built in the 1500s and renovated in the 17th century – has been home to the Museum of the History of fabric and costumes since 1985; this is where dresses and accessories, embroidery, laces and other precious material bear testimony to the great skills of Venice’s tailors and embroiderers.
Since 2013, five rooms have been dedicated to the history of perfumes and the tradition of cosmetics in Venice, inviting visitors to enjoy an original and charming perspective on the history and culture of the magnificent city on the lagoon; the itinerary is dotted with multimedia and sensorial experiences, with educational videos, collections of bottles and containers, ancient workshops, herbariums and recipes, maps you can smell, interactive content, looms for the extraction of essential oils, distillers and much more.
After all, as Sándor Márai wrote, “Venice is not its doge nor its Messer Grande, not the canons with their prominent belly nor the senators ready to sell out to anyone for a bag of gold coins. Venice is not just the bell tower on Piazza San Marco, or the pigeons on the white slabs of stone, the wells built and finely carved by Venetian artisans, my fathers and their ancestors; Venice is not only the wet glimmer of narrow calli and the moonlight on small bridges, it is not only panders, loose women and cardsharps recorded at the humid prosecutor’s office – Venice is not only what you can see of it. How many people truly know it?” (translated from S. Márai, “La recita di Bolzano”, Adelphi, Milan 2000).