Friday, 27 March 2009

Farmacia SS. Annunziata

I feel that I owe some history and local stuff to my dear readers. (If there are any, obviously.)
So, on Tuesday, I finally dragged my lazy ass to the pharmacy around the corner. I read some time ago somewhere on the internetz that some place around SS. Annunziata makes their own perfumes. It's the university quarter and via de'Servi is totally around the corner but I am what I am. It took time. The pleasant surprise for an art historian were the 17th century shelves. Pretty.
When I checked that there're not many people (social phobia, remember), I went in, chatted up the pharmacist, tried a handful of things, bought a bottle of Patchouly indonesiano, got a handful of samples (to be dealt with later) and went my own way.
There company has a website which is totally lacking any relevant information. They even list some fragrances which are different from what they have in the pharmacy - I got a brochure with a list of stuff including the ingredients.
The Patchouly Indonesiano rocks. Forget the sparkly light patchouli of Coromandel or whatever else. This is some special sort; at the beginning it has the bitterness of artemisia in Yatagan. Although it's Indonesian patchouli in the top, middle and base, it develops somehow, after a while the bitterness cedes and gives way to wet earth and honey and something that I'd compare to moldy newspapers. After a few hours, it dries to something almost minty. In general, it reminds me of the of beehives at grandparents' garden. Dry wood, honey, beeswax and some sort of dirt, on a sunny summer day. It lasts forever and resists washing quite a bit.

Patchouly Indonesiano by Farmacia SS Annunziata, 95 euros for 100ml of perfume.
Top notes: Indonesian patchouli
Middle notes: Indonesian patchouli
Base notes: Indonesian patchouli

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

On the benefits of regular coffee drinking

In the mornings, I drink coffee. I get up, stumble to the kitchen, put the water to boil, go and wash myself...
Today I found I ran out of coffee. Not a single grain. I made me a cup of tea and thought I'd be fine.
(1) I'm addicted to coffee. Self-obvious point.
(2) Coffee makes the world work correctly.

So, things went wrong today. Not totally wrong in the sense of me being late, failing to do this and that. Wrong, like, askew.
For the exchange thing, I had to sit a test in English. Level B1, the European Union has tables even for knowledge. It's something like intermediate. I arrived to the right building, managed to find the right room... and my idea of test being papers handed out and people scribbling something was turned upside down. It was some multiple-choice thing, test comprehension and listening comprehension, done on computers.
I signed the papers, went to designated place and started doing the thing. The two tasks in reading comprehension were so badly written that I had an itch to take out a red pen... well, were it on paper, I would correct the faults. There were no mistakes as such but it was very clumsily written.
Listening comprehension made me laugh. It was slooooow, e-nun-ci-a-ted and one of the talks was about Yukio Mishima which made me laugh even more. Nothing against that guy, he did some decent writing, but he was just top level crazy. Bonus for cray-zee, when wanting to link from wikipedia, I found out that the whole listening comprehension thingz was this very article read aloud. They not only could... they should tried better. Accidents like this really do undermine my trust in humankind.
I got off the bus to the general area at 1043 and I was leaving the test room at 1108. The test was for 60 minutes.
I walked down to the next stop. Three black guys wanted to sell me trinkets. History has turned upside down, no more the white men exchange trinkets for gold, rubies and lion hides, now black men try to exchange trinkets for whatever white men may have. I gave them The Eye and walked by.
In Florence, they have a street named after Cesare Lombroso, I crossed it today. It was the guy who invented the theory that from the shape of head, one can predict whether one is a criminal and what sort of. Not crazy, straight away creepy.
I wanted to mail a package. I always thought it was a simple thing - I haz a box. I goez post office. I fill in a form. Post person sticks it on box. I pay postage. I go. Nope, maybe somewhere but not in Italy. I had a box and postal lady gave me paper to fill in. I didn't expect that they would want my phone number which I don't remember but Ive written it in my diary which I obviously didn't have with me because I didn't know I would need it. Well, I managed to explain to the postal lady that if she has a celly, I can give her a squill and we'll find out. Then, my passport was needed, to make a copy and add it to the postal files. Then, postal lady asks for codice fiscale, sorta identification number. I haz even that one, on a pretty green card with the coat of arms of the Republic of Italy and a barcode and such and it permanently rests on my table. The number can be found somewhere online so the postal lady did that. Then I needed to fill some form for the customs. Customs! Within the EU, where there should be none. The whole process took some laughing and more time than an English test of level B1.
I still had some time left before my French class so I decided that I'll go downtown, drop at the department store and see whether they have Escale a Pondichéry, the hot new thingie from Dior. They did not so I decided to go to via Tornabuoni to Dior's and try there. On the way, I stopped at Gucci to get a sniff of Flora, too.
The lady at Dior, upon my question, explained that Dior as such and Dior perfumes are two entirely different companies and that at the Dior boutique, they only have the boutique scents.
I had enough and after all, there was that French class.
I arrived a bit early, I dug out all the pieces of paper and a notepad to jot down my impressions and people looked weird at me. Like, what am I doing. trying things and reviewig them, I said. For some magazine or something? Do I make perfumes? Internet? And do I get paid for it? I tried explaining that it's a hobby. People didn't get it.
I dropped at the grocery to get coffee and onions, thinking that when I have the pot of quail broth in the fridge, I could make risotto (and be sick). At home, I found out that I didn't have any rice.

Now, I'm catching up with caffeine intake and I'm not risking anything again.

Monday, 23 March 2009

Stuck or something

I haven't been posting for quite some time. Well... I'm lazy or busy or something. I could at least start a series like Plant of the day or Building of the day or something.
Well... after all... not that bad idea.
Viola odorata, albino

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Why not to stand between me and my cake

Do I look nice? Or do I rather look like someone who may barbecue your liver?

No, I'm not grinning. This is my normal face. Sure, I can smile but then I look like someone who just barbecued someone else's liver and is having a good time.

Oddly enough, nothing works. People see a blonde and female and their brains way too often switch to the Oh, meek idiot! mode and then they call me mean because I don't behave like a fragile princess.
Well, more fun for me. I love puzzling people.

Don't try to stand between me and my cake

Yesterday I kept ranting extatically about Basala.
I checked the buzz on the internetz, people wrote that it's being discontinued so today I wanted to plunder the shelf. Some damn idiot left the price tag for EdT but they had none and, well, I may be crazy but not that crazy as to buy some after shave stuff. Definitely not before I check what are after shave stuffs made from.
I checked all places possible around the town, including the Shiseido booth at the largest department store - the ladies gave me a very weird look that I want to try men's fragrance. (Same store, YSL booth - I gave an eye to the new Nuit d'un homme, the lady made me to try it - pretty but somewhat flat - and when I showed signs of pleasure, she urged me to buy it, that nobody cares whether it's men's or women's stuff.) I ended up in Profumeria inglese, the nicest shop of its sort which has, among other advantages, qualified and very helpful shop assistants; the ladies spent quite some time phoning places and then sadly told me that the fragrance is indeed being discontinued, that they have some shower gels and stuff but not the edt anymore.
Now, don't dare to stand between me and my dessert. I never claimed to be a good person and when I want something, there is the critical period when I wander around with bloodshot eyes and want. It may settle down after a while, or not, but when I want my cake and you're in the way... well, you were warned.

When in the department store, I checked Chamade by Guerlain which I got on eBay without trying, somehow relying on an overenthusiastic review. I should have been warned by the claimed similarity to Miss Dior, one of the few fragrances that makes me want to throw up. It was this Chamade that waited for me at the post office. Well, the same website that published the overenthusiastic review is populated by Guerlain maniacs so I have five offers from prospective buyers. Olga will set up an auction. I never claimed to be a good person, remember.

After two hours of checking all possible and impossible links to various corners of the internetz, I found several places where they sold the EdT for prices that were totally indecent, very many places that said Out of stock. And the umpteenth website was a rather local store (Lucca or around, I think) that had the damn stuff on stock so I got a lifetime supply.
Ten minutes later, Olga sent me a list (or I read a list) of stuff she wanted from eBay.

I hereby declare that I'm broke. No, I'm not really broke but I have to play broke in order not to buy more things. Or at least to not buy unimportant things.

I hang around the town for a while, I wrung the scarf soaked in Kypre, bottled a few samples for Elena of Perfume Shrine, hung the scarf onto the drying rack and now the whole place smells of iris root. I think it's not any damn chypre fragrance by any means but I may be wrong. I'm often wrong.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Arno is full....

... we can drown the tourists. They will stay underwater if the ancient traditional technique of 'cement shoes' is used, i. e. dripping their feet in concrete. Now, I know that this place lives off tourist industry and without the crowds, the local economy wouldn't work but a girl can dream, right?

Yes, you're right, I was downtown again. Three main tasks: Go to Museo Horne (fail, closed), buy sunscreen, spf50+, can't find mine (fail, this is a country that doesn't cater to milky white people) and to get a powder brush - I succeeded in this one at least.
When hanging around the department store in a vain attempt to find a decent sunscreen, I did a bit of sniffing. I deeply regretted that the pretty pale green Miss Dior Chérie L'eau smells like cat piss on me because it looks lovable, I tried again Diorella which is an olfactory equivalent to be hit with a log, and Miss Dior - I got the old version on eBay and everybody says that it's better. I guess that being better than the current Miss Dior is no big deal, on the other hand, now, six hours later, the paper strip smells passable.
But... I don't love all things Japanese, no damn freaking way, if I was blindly uncritical, which I'm not, I would keep it very secret so that people wouldn't think me superficial. I'd say that I may appreciate some Japanese stuff on a sunny day when in the mood for that, which explains that after seeing it mentioned somewhere, I've been maniacally hunting for Basala. The fragrances by Shiseido are not available just totally everywhere and just around now, there's a bottle of Basala EdT on eBay, two days before auction ending, around 67 euros. I read somewhere that Serge Lutens has maniacally devout fans and since Serge Lutens created a few things for Shiseido, it may be the maniacal fans fighting for it. 35 euros in Coin, folks. If you weren't that busy trolling eBay...

Anyhow, when my heart rate got back to passable 200, I tried it and it's one of the best fragrances evah. I won't repeat myself, I've already ranted enough on Fragrantica - and speaking of Fragrantica, all the men's fragrances I wear are described there as particularly masculine. Interesting.

Now, it demonstrates the immense powers of marketing. I would like to see an experiment of the same scent being marketed in ladies' and gentlemens' packaging. The women's presentation in a pink bottle with a bow and gilding and some overfucked ornaments, presented as ideal fragrance for sweet fragile princesses. The men's bottle in smoke-grey glass, all edges, and advertised as a fragrance for guys who have lots of muscles and roaring chainsaws. Or something like that. I would want to see the reviews: "La Princesse is the perfect scent for a woman who wants to be romantic but not overtly so. The top notes of neroli and carnation add airy and fragile touch..."
No. I'm a damn insomniac but although it's after midnight, I'm not so high as to invent two imaginary fragrance reviews like this. I would drink but I have stuff to do but one day, when I'll be in the right mood....

Monday, 16 March 2009


I did some spring cleaning of sorts. It was needed, I started to be worried that the dust bunnies might overwhelm me and the floor space was somehow getting smaller. I took away the yarn from the French window because it's spring and I don't mind the draft anymore. The cashmeres and silks went into plastic bags to the wardrobe and some stuff is on display.
I rewound the dust-coloured megaskein into several balls which was a major pain in the arse because it's angora/cashmere/lambswool blend so it's lightweight and of enormous yardage. it was meant for a sweater but meantime, it got somehow warmer so... next season.
Yes, the baby yarn colonies are still somehow growing around. I'm not that meticulous and why not to keep some atmosphere. (It's New Ruby by Noro, long discontinued and I finished a sweater from that one around a week ago.)
I dusted the shelfs - it was a tough task because I have tons of things.

Somehow, the stuff accumulates to create little nice still lifes. Nail paint (and there's some more somewhere around, obviously) that reminds me that I should paint my nails someday.

Or trash. It must be breeding.

Sunday, 15 March 2009

More from Olga's bag

Olga is my perfumista friend.
Olga's bag is a paper bag from the department store in which I put stuff I bought for her or stuff I bought for myself/got somewhere and didn't like it. She may either take it or she'll sell it back home in the Reservation where some things are scarce and perfumista maniacs are not. (No point of me selling stuff from Italy, of course.)

Jours heureux en Hongrie (1): I admit, I got it because of the name. It's produced by something called Le Monde en Parfum and it's not bad. It smells like lemon hard candy on a soapy (rose? aldehydes?) base and I can imagine quite a few people wearing it happily. I don't belong among them.
[hand cleaned with salvietta rinfrescante a te verde and some spit]
Now, I gotta go and do some ebaying, folks.

fifteen minutes and several heart attack attempts later

[salvietta rinfrescante and spit do not work well on Happy days in Hungary. Meantime, some goddamn bitch snatched the vintage Cuir de Russie in the last second. Or, it was two damn bitches competing.]

Now, Asja. The long discontinued fragrance by Fendi of which I read somewhere out there in the depths of internetz. And saw the pictures. In every minimalist with good taste, there's a kitschy girl waiting to have her own way so I was enchanted by (1) black and gold striped bottle (2) red and black striped hexagonal box (3) the kitschy name itself. I got a miniature just somewhere and then I became enthralled by the scent itself. I did a good bit of googling, found some discount store in Britain where I ordered the rest of stock, 9x20ml, then nothing was arriving until they refunded me. Asja gets freakishly expensive on eBay but I must've been a good girl in my previous life (and I'll no doubt get lots of shit in the next one for the amount of vanity I exert) because after some trolling of eBay, a local seller had the 40ml bottle for incredible 9,90. I snatched it with some long out of production Karl Lagerfeld and some stuff for Olga and now I iz happy. The only issue remaining was that I shared the miniature with Olga and Olga wants her Asja, too. The 70ml bottle from Spain was cancelled by eBay so... well, I'm continuing my cautious watch.
However, Asja. The top notes should be fruity and citrusy and possibly they are but the spices are fighting the way through the fruits - nutmeg, cinnamon and also pretty prominent honey. The florals are there, too, but not too prominent - jasmine, carnation, ylang-ylang, rose... they add to the composition without sticking out. After a while, lilies of the valley start fighting their way out, and I smell something indefinably smokey - it has to be cedar in the base.

(1) Informations welcome. Google spat out something from French forums but no substantial information.

A few things from the backlog

I bought a few niceties these days and got showered with samples. One of them was Miss Dior Chérie L'eau. I expected a lot, the middle notes being described like gardenia accords made me expect something like my best beloved Une fleur.
Nope. At the first try, the thing was acidic and I put it in the category of No big deal. When shopping for something springy yesterday, I sprayed it on me to give it yet another try. The top note of orange essence makes a terrible mess and added the indolic qualities of white flowers, the result turns to Eau du Chat. Cat piss, if you wish. Thet good point may be that the scent is pretty persistent.
Eau de Chat went to the Olga's bag - she may pick whatever she fancies and we'll sell the rest and get us some more perfumes.

I did some shopping. So, I got a black fan – long time ago, I saw a pic of Karl Lagerfeld (when he was still fat, I think) in Vogue posing with one, with the logo of Vogue printed on it. I love black and I love accessories and I love fans which are moreover handy for good part of the year. The thingie will need a bit of customizing, I'll try to get off the gloss of the varnish by nail paint remover and instead of the Vogue logo, I'll add my own signature. Got me a Nancy Cunard style bangle. Not in ivory, just some indefinable wood for 9 euros... but I have a bangle large enough for my big paw. One. Out of many that were in the shop. Being a big-boned fashion victim is somewhat tough.
A propos of shopping, I checked several places and apparently, getting a hair bleach is impossible in this town. After fifth shop, I got the blondest colour of blondest. The woman photographed on the box looked a little teeny weeny bit darker than I.
The hair turned out passably well but it's not just the way it should be. I bleach my hair to have it bleached, not to get some golden blonde or how the hell the colour is called. But, better than nothing.

Friday, 13 March 2009

Best enemies

I seem to have adapted well to Italy. I seem to have allergy to cypress pollen.
Admittedly, it may be mental because on Sunday, I was in the botanical garden, saw cypresses blossoming, the educational note read that it's a popular allergen here and on Monday I woke up all swollen and my hair and skin on my face felt as if they wanted to peel off and walk away. I tried some anti-looklikecrap lotion (didn't work) and took more antihistamins and whined all day long.
Meet cupressus sempervirens. Wikipedia says that it's called pencil pine.
Evil wikipedians, they should have the 'swallow your coffee first' warning. Heeeh, pencil pine! Pine, mind you. Pencils, for that matter, are made of cedar wood. At least those good ones.
I love cypresses, they are pretty. So are the real pines. One sunny day, I'll take the camera with me when going to I Tatti.
The other tree I love because it's pretty (1) is hazelnut. Coryllus avellana for the botany-minded types and another popular allergen.

Pretty tree - they have the curly variety here.
And to round it up to three, a cat lives in the botanical garden. A lovely colourpoint. She has a house behind a glasshouse. The other day I went by bus past the garden and saw her hunting for something.

I have allergy to cats, too.
Life is funny.