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Perfume Violetta di Parma: Italy’s most famous fragrance

When we think about choosing a perfume, the most important thing we consider is keeping a fresh smell throughout the day. When we realize how many scents possibilities to choose we have, how we can play with interesting combinations, choosing a perfume becomes a very cool activity.

One of the most well-known perfumes through the years that had kept its trend, importance, and appeal to others is the Perfume Violetta di Parma, which dates back to the 18th century having an interesting story.

The story behind Italy’s most famous fragrance, Borsari’s Violetta di Parma – A romantic historical saga

Marie Louise, The Story of Borsari Perfumes – Photo from Artemilla

In 1810, Marie Louise of Austria became Napoleon Bonaparte‘s second wife and the Duchess of Parma. The marriage was a strategic political move on Napoleon’s part. Marie Louise was the daughter of the Austrian Emperor Francis II. Through the marriage, Napoleon hoped to legitimize his own empire.

But it was in vain – just four years later, Napoleon was forced to abdicate and go into exile on Elba.

Marie Louise, with her son Francois, left Paris and returned to Vienna. Her family gave her the rulership of the Duchy of Parma in Italy, where she went to live in 1816.

The perfume’s flagrance – made by a combination of everything that Marie Louise loved

Marie Louise had a gentle, loving nature and soon became popular with her new subjects.

She loved flowers, and in particular the shy wild violet, which seemed so like her in nature. She used the violet in her signature and often wrote letters in violet ink.

Marie Louise had violets sent from Austria and planted them in the gardens of her new home. She did eventually find happiness again, with her grand chamberlain, the Count of Bombelles.

But it was for the violets that she is remembered. Marie Louise adored the scent of violets. She prevailed upon the monks at the Monastery of the Annunciata to use their alchemy to distill an essence of the lovely flower. This they managed to do, distilling the essence of Parma violets into bottles for the Duchess’ personal use.

Marie Louise died in 1847 and was buried in accordance with her wishes in Vienna. Even today, she is associated with the flowers she loved so much. Also, gifts of violets are left at her tomb. The monk’s jealousy guarded the secret method of distilling the fragile essence of Violetta di Parma, but it wasn’t until 1870 that it finally left those hallowed walls.

Violetto di Parma and Borsari – A perfume business that was set up thanks to Marie’s love for Violettes

An Italian perfumer, Lodovico Borsari, visited the monastery and smelled the sweet essence of the flower distilled by the monks. Eventually, he persuaded the monks to part with the secret method, and in 1897, Borsari set up his perfume business, selling Violetto di Parma.

Botanical drawing of Parma Violet – Photo form Indigodreams

Thanks to Marie Louise, violets now grew in abundance in Parma, and word of the entrancing new scent quickly spread.

From the sheltered monastery, to Marie Louise’ boudoir to the wide world, the Parma Violet became one of the most coveted of perfumes.

The beauty of this scent is that it is still as fresh and sweet as when it was first distilled. A very simple perfume, Violetta Di Parma may seem naive by contrast to today’s more sophisticated blends. Yet it is this simplicity that makes it timeless.

Lodovico went on to create many more classic fragrances for his perfume house, Borsari di Parma. In 1880 he created Acqua Classica, a refreshing blend of citrus, sage, geranium, sandalwood, leather, and oak musk that became popular with men.

Other lovely floral fragrances from Borsari include Lily of the Valley, Orange Blossom, Lavanda Alpina, and Tea Rose.

Borsari 1870 Italian Fragrance Collection – Photo form Amazon

But it is the romantic story of Marie Louise and her beloved violets that lingers in the mind – just as the Borsari perfume lingers on the skin.

Violetta di Parma perfume – Photo form Fragrantica

Italy’s most known perfume, still the best choice for refined women

Since its release, the Violetta di Parma by Borsari perfume from Italy has pleased women all around the world. It created a trend around women looking to find a feminine scent to describe best their spirit. If any woman was looking for a romantic fragrance, but not too sensual or overwhelming, this perfume was more than expected. A casual blend of violet with rose, lily of the valley, some jasmine and heliotrope, and hyacinth are the elements that make this perfume the best choice for a modest lady who loves soft scents.

Violetta di Parma Perfume Bottle and Packaging – Photo from Fragrantica

Nevertheless, It has received the name of a legendary perfume made in Italy. This is a classic perfume that became known to refined women who like soft, classy, fragrances and don’t want to attract attention with powerful scents.

By Gail Kavanagh

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3 years ago

Is it possible to buy it still? Haven’t been able to find it for years😔

3 years ago

I guess this is a must have for an Italian girl, i will try to order one

3 years ago

This is a very interesting article thanks !