Venice, known throughout the world as a naval power and a thriving centre of trade and commerce, was also where the ancient art of perfumery was born.
The merchants of the Serenissima would leave the lagoon city and travel along the ‘mude’ trade routes, reaching a vast territory stretching from the Mediterranean to Africa and as far as the Orient. The Venetians imported oils, pastes, powders, soaps and liquids from Greece, Persia, Egypt and the most refined courts of the East.
Their galleys would return to the Serenissima loaded with ambergris, sandalwood, rare spices, precious musks and other incredibly expensive materials, ready to be transformed by the skilful and creative 'muschieri’, the alchemists of perfume.
Exotic oils and spices would be mixed together to create perfumed essences for people, rooms, clothes and even coins; these were then stored in small glass bottles, luxury items that went on to become an object of desire among the ladies of the Serenissima.
This ancient story of perfumes, techniques and inventions is today being told at the Palazzo Mocenigo Museum, taking visitors on a fascinating journey to discover the ancient Venetian art of the 'muschieri’. The five rooms dedicated to perfumery feature multimedia tools and sensory experiences, promising an exciting visit.
The ‘olfactory’ room, which recreates a sixteenth-century perfumer's workshop, has a ‘sniffing map’ tracing the 'Spice Route’ (the gruelling trade routes followed by the merchants of the Serenissima). In the room dedicated to production techniques, visitors can find out about ancient recipes and bizarre ingredients. There is also a collection of small bottles and perfume bottles from different eras, made with different materials and with different origins, telling the story of the ‘decorative’ niche art linked to cosmetics and toiletry accessories.
Museo di Palazzo Mocenigo
Santa Croce 1992, Venezia
Tel. +39 041 721798