Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Acqua di Genova la Superba: Rovo Nero.

My caffeine addiction is quite a known fact.
I was looking for some coffee fragrance with coffee notes and miserably failing. When Thierry Mugler's A-men Pure coffee appeared, I was very eager to try and when finally, in one store, they had a tester that actually contained something, I was happy that I had the chance to try. It was however a major disappointment because I could smell the coffee for around 0.03 seconds and then the fragrance changed into a cake. That cake my mom could make, with recipe starting with Take a pound of butter and one and half dozen eggs. Caramel, maple syrup, butter, maybe something chocolatey and a touch of fresh coriander. No coffee.
I love Guerlain's AA Gentiana. It' been discontinued but I found some online place that offered a tester, ordered two (lifetime supply), the guy had none and I had 30 euros credit, out of sudden, so I picked Rovo Nero instead, because the name sounded pretty, whatever it might have meant, and the emerald green bottle on the picture looked enchanting. I did look for something online, I decided that it may be a decent fragrance and when it arrived and I gave it a try, it was an utter shock.
Some resin or something.
I mean, I love the soapy cleanness of Rive Gauche, the incomparable freshness of Liberté Acidulée or even something totally plainly floral like Rose du Maroc. But, I tend to fall deeply for complicated and dark scents. Now, Rovo nero (means black blackberry in lingua franca(1)) is dark (2). And dry, it creates an image of a dusty floor in a long abandoned place.
When the Onda arrived yesterday, I had this feeling that it may well match with Rovo Nero. Neither Vero nor the site (both all flash, you have to click your way around. The Genovese don't offer neither much information nor the visual fun of Vero) give a detailed description of notes - but, hey, "Black Bramble: an aromatic and flowery melange, woody and mossy, fresh green" is... nothing. It's another way of saying "it smells somehow"(3). Well, yeah, sure, whatever. Coumarin, I guess, is the the aromatic bit, some cedarwood and a hint of strawberries. The rest - well, no green freshness, oakmoss may well be but, what damn flowery melange? I wouldn't want to see the flowers, I guess.

I generally put perfume on my shoulders. So that I could smell it. We were going to Museo Bandini, I definitely wanted to wear Onda (4) but since Onda may be a bit unwearable (5), I wanted some nice counterpart. There's nothing indolic about Rovo Nero although I wouldn't say it's an easy one... and hey, these two go so well together! I yet have to try and blend them directly but the aggressive, juicy and lush Onda on the left and the calm, dry Rovo Nero which is like the sound of sarcophagus lid (marble, no darn wooden coffin) falling into place and keeps the animalistic note in Onda in place... not the absolutely right thing but almost so.

Museo Bandini is one of those little hidden gems and I don't say it because I like local museums. Neat and interesting collection of works from the 13th through 15th centuries, pretty pink panels, clean floors.... Moreover, I was in a company of decent people who led intelligent and stimulating discussions which made me want to study and become a better person, not to jump out of the window. I needed such therapy indeed. If only someone wrote my papers for me... then it would be a perfect day today.

Back to work.

(1) Pun intended. Twice.
(2) Nope. Thrice.
(3) Ahem, Italy? Remember the FSSA website?
(4) No, I'm not hopping zealously and I don't giggle. It takes effort, though.
(5) There are sagas on the internetz about certain fecal, animalistic etc. notes. The right word for stinky is indolic, please. Means the same but it gives me the idea of jasmine (aka 'indolic nature of white flowers' - the same chemical, different concentrations), not dung heap. Please.


Google Doctorate - Mom
Me: Hey, there's this new doctorate thingy, want to know?
Mom: Sure.
Me: GoD, you see.
Mom: And it means?
Me: Google Doctorate. (Funny, isn't that, isn't that... hey?)
Mom: Cool, and where can one get that?
Me: (Is the irony so subtle that me, master of understatement and hidden nasty jokes doesn't see it? Or?) Google University, of course. (1)
Mom: And where's that one?

Truffle Oil - Dad

Mom called the other day, talking about gardening and stuff and said that guys (2) were around and that dad wanted to make bacon and eggs and:
"you pissed him. He wanted to take that little bottle of oil you brought and it wasn't closed properly and he took it by the lid and dropped it on the floor and it broke."
"He should drop this habit of taking bottles by the lid. Leads to disasters. And, it was closed - in a way that I could open it without a wrench." Some obscure idea starts kicking my shin wildly.
"Little bottle of oil I brought? I brought a huge one and it's in the cellar. There was... damn, you tell me that my father wanted to use truffle oil for frying? Truffle oil that's added into salads a drop a time? And dropped it on the floor?" I take a while off to have a wild laugh. "Well, enjoy the truffle den, there."

Yours Truly - today morning.
I needed to pay a bill and found out that I forgot my internet banking access username. Some idiotic random mess of letters and numbers, I did remember it yesterday the last time and now I couldn't get it right. I tried a few times, then I called the hotline, they told me that I have to come personally.
Meantime, it was eight something, caffeine spread in my system and not my brains but my hands remembered. (3)

Yours truly - sunscreen
I have this sun allergy and I have several tubes of sunscreen. One was covered with greasy handprints and since I wanted to have a shower (yep, I work out in the mornings when I get up early. Then, the body seems to be burning caffeine faster and I... do things), I took the tube with me. That sunscreen is waterproof. Very so, it doesn't wash off and even scrub doesn't work on it. (4) Well, water falling on me, I grab a tube (5), press out some contents into the palm of my other hand and... it's the waterproof sunscreen. I couldn't wash it off neither with soap nor with shampoo for greasy hair, I basically wiped it off with a brush I use for my heels.

I see a pattern.

(1) In case someone wasn't properly informed, Google university = I read it in the internetz, it haz to be true.
(2) Botanist and Doc. My friends she has snatched from me because they like food and mom likes to feed people. Guys look thin, too.
(3) The body has memory on its own. Gotta use the concept in the material for teachers I'm writing (ahem).
(4) It has to peel off or something. I didn't investigate.
(5) I could say that it's because I'm very shortsighted and my vision was blurred but that would be a lie.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Tuesday suffering II.

After some major peer pressure (1), I signed up for a course of Japanese. It was being delayed for three months or so but last week, it finally started. The last week's class was horrid, I've indeed seen a room full of arseholes, I've assisted at lectures for basic school teachers, so I wasn't shocked. After wondering whether I'm not wrong, after all, these are university students so supposedly, their IQ count should exceed the count of their teeth, I still came to a conclusion that apart from the professor who seemed just fine and yours truly, the room was full of idiots.
I also used up a whole entire post-it (2) for jotting down substantial information.

On Sunday, I think, I had a short series of nightmares.
One was happening in Moscow, which was horrible (3), and with my mom.
The other was about not submitting a paper, inventing excuses, promising it the next day and writing it overnight, although I don't remember clearly whether I managed.
The third nightmarish story was about one idiot from the course being run over by tram (or possibly metro) - the horror being those 17 surviving.

Since at least two of the attendance mentioned taking the same course another time, there was a certain hope. I prayed with the fervour seen almost exclusively only at atheists that whatever the deity is responsible, may pretty please do something. Today, there were six people, if I counted right, absent. Well, one was reduced to a greasy spot in my dream and I don't want to find out where the others ended up, they might wake up and come back.
The whole thing was ridiculous. Admittedly, I used two and half post-its (4) for substantial notes and just a minor amount of doodles but the amount of studip I had to witness was unbearable. I made notes on what was going on - to keep me distracted because one can do only a certain amount of biting one's nails, staring in the wall or just trying to make my head explode with sheer power of will. And, I think, I have decent material for a cartoon strip.
I made notes today, on what was going on in the class: 20min - generalized studip talk about how Climacteric Maiden spotted some Japanese tourists downtown (5), how Course Nerd couldn’t sleep, eager for the next class etc. Two minutes - professor saying something substantial, BoI (6) starts quarreling about something along the lines where they’ve been, how to say, dunno, Faeroe Islands in Japanese, professor needs to look up wtf Faeroe Islands are. I watch the clouds drift by and I want to drift with them. To Finland, for some reason. Two more minutes of something substantial. Climacteric Maiden makes oh-so-funny remark. Fat Girl Who Knows Everything makes another oh-so-funny remark, both giggle, their friends giggle. I wonder whether I could kill myself with a penknife because I don’t deserve this. Professor rants… well, why not, at least she’s not giggling. Professor kicks into some cabling and sets off the alarm. I hope for SWAT storming in to check who’s stealing some precious equipment but the alarm shuts up and nothing happens. Professor mentions that Japanese can be written horizontally or vertically, as one pleases. BoI discuss and giggle. To demonstrate her point, professor tosses out some printed matter for us to see. BoI discusses. BoI discovers that even in Japanese, different fonts exist and they proceed to discuss this discovery, saying things like Gee, this looks different. I watch the clouds drift. I think about the ball of qiviut/merino in my bag and the wonderful sweater I started in the morning. The idea about knitting up the guts of BoI comes to being and entertains me for a while. Professor says a few substantial points, in the following hour and half, people ask and re-ask and ask again like And, there’s, like, no difference between masculine and feminine forms, like, in Italian, there’s professore and professoressa for male and female professor? professor says Nope. Idiot, the same or another, asks And how do I know whether it’s him or her? Slight variations appear, e.g. This word may mean A or B, idiot asks And how do I know? Lather, rinse, repeat once every minute. I want to write Context, arsehole, on the wall, with arsehole’s blood but I rather watch the clouds drift, wish I could drift to Finland with them and I knit pink garters (7) in my thoughts. Class ends, I run away.

I went downtown, bought me a book on Meditteranean flora and some chocolates and since them, I'm whining on the internetz and playing with my beautiful yarn. Reassuring.

(1) "Damn, don't be like us idiots with no schools and social phobia we can't overcome as you do and now you go," alternatively, in case of Joey, "Damn, go, learn that and then you'll teach me."
(2) 7.5 x 7.5 cm
(3) Moscow in that dream was horrible, otherwise I'm not informed on the state of te city, I was there the last time in 1987.
(4) see note 2
(5) They need not be spotted. They just are. So what?
(6) read Bunch of Idiots
(7) from the guts of BoI, obviously. And yes, there is indeed an allusion to Nanny Ogg and her rapports to Nac Mac Feegles.

Sunday, 26 April 2009

The joy of shopping

The other day, I was downtwn to run some errands, I got a full dose of disappointment at I Profumi di Firenze as described in previous post so I went to improve my day to Chanel's.

Some of the scents from Les Exclusifs range are re-releases of older scents.
I have rather a subversive sense of humor so I did my best to get hold of one of the old versions of something, the plan being that I can go to Chanel's, fish out a bottle of Bois des Iles, for example, and start comparing whether it's the same. (The other subversive plan involves Lancome and it'll be blogged about some time later.)
I got No. 22 which I started to love madly. Very aldehydic, soapy, with roses and violets and I was sure I wanted more than the little extrait that was left. Now, after I got pissed a few times this week already and after I checked that my financial situation allowed it, I put that old No. 22 in a ziploc bag, ready to go, should I feel like it.
After the impossible stench of Spezie de'Medici (sorry but the tissue on which I spat in order to wash my hand wanted to kill me two days later), the time came.

I went to Chanel's. The doorman remembered me since the last time, or at least he said Welcome back, madam.
I aimed for the shelf with perfumes, asked whether I can try the No. 22, tried and casually - obviously, it was the perfectly thought-out and practiced casual because only such seems to be actually so carefree - took out my old bottle, chatting something along the lines whether the new stuff is reformulated or moreless the same. The shop assistant made this Oh, shit! look and ran backstage to call the other shop assistants to have a look. Three or four other Chanel ladies came to check and I had one of those moments that I'd press, dry and stick into an album. I tried some of the other fragrances, got my No. 22 - they could've given me a sample of something but, well, one can't expect everything. And it still made my day.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

I profumi di Firenze

I profumi was on my list of places to check for quite some time. The pharmacy that produces and sells the brand is located just off the Signoria, very downtown, so when I needed to go to the post office today, I allowed myself a digression. To be correct, someone on perfumistas' forum asked about the brand so I kicked my lazy arse and went to check. Since I had already read stories of enchantment in the internetz, I expected a Something.
Being pre-influenced by the stories, I generously splashed some of Spezie de' Medici directly on my hand. Idiot – since the Vivara Silver Edition disaster, I was vary, only twice I let an unknown fragrance directly on my paw and twice I regretted. While Escale a Portofino just wanted to peel off my retinas, Spezie stank like an itinerant bordello. I'm afraid I cannot supply a detailed information on the notes, at the beginning, it reminded me of one cheap chewing gum of my childhood but then I was done with. I must admit that all the five or six fragrances I tried had very aggressive start which totally scared me.
Mirto imperiale (imperial myrtle)Well, myrtle with its sweet and somewhat minty scent, now, some time later, it turned soapy. Very aggressive start, very aggressive soap at the end - I believe that more diluted, it would make a nice cologne.
Caterina de' Medici – An attack of something sweet and spicy that made me want to run, thinking that if the folks back then survived this type of scent, then they probably survived anything. Later on, it remains very strong but not killing-strog and changes to fruity-floral, or to peach and rose, to be exact. (If my nasal mucose can discern something today yet.)
Cuoio di Russia – extremely resiny at the beginning, settled down to rather pleasant leathery smell with prominent soapy tone.
Iris di Firenze - I must admit that by then, I probably wouldn't smell anything at all but the beginning seemed very unimpressive to me. Well, bland iris water. To my surprise, the sillage is magnificent... sheer nougat.
Acqua di Firenze - light floral with lilac or wisteria or something like that and I suspect I smell a bit of cucumber.
I admit that my first impression was Holy shit, what can anyone like on this stuff?, I spat on my hand - when spit is good for cats, why not for me, I thought, and then I thought that I was a major arsehole for not carrying around some of those wet disinfectant tissues - and tried to rub the aggressive Spezie of my hand and then went to Chanel to make my day (next time about that one).

Summed up: I'll be back. I said Iris and nougat with Olga within earshot (metaphorically ) and she wants. And, I need to give the stuff a second thought and maybe Helg will want something, too, since she heard the stories too.

And now back to culture and stuff.

Farmacia SS. Annunziata: Hyle

"Primary matter, vital scent, salt of Life.

Top notes: lemon, bergamot, myrtle
Middle notes: lavender, ginger, ozone notes
Base notes: oamkoss notes, juniper wood, patchouli"

So says the brochure. Another bag of sticky goo - I must say that I prefer the good ole vials. The first impression is pretty pungent bergamot but in a while, the scent develops; as with Chia, the citruses are not very prominent and they only stick out from time to time. In a while, the scent gets very sweet and sort of minty, I suspect the myrtle (not a common ingredient, I'd say, outside the incensey realm of fragrances). It totally doesn't develop in a linear way, there's a sinus curve of notes appearing and receding. At first, I would say that the citruses are done with in the first five minutes, giving way to mint hard candies and another while later, the fresh and pungent scent changes to slightly soapy - it's maybe my impression only but I often read citruses as soap. After yet another while, myrtle, ginger and juniper wood overflow everything only to give way to ozone and lavender and citruses again... and o it goes forever
Now, something has been kicking my shin for quite a while, some long buried impression... this smell reminds me of my childhood holidays in today's Croatia - sunlit coast (the perceptible saltiness of bergamot and ozone combine) with wild lavender and junipers and dry grass and pine needles and the pungency of salty breeze, in the happy time when I didn't have any allergies to mar my joy of being outside in the sun. And, that indefinable sort of soap that probably isn't produced anymore and which places the impression to sometime 25 years ago, not here and now, among cypresses and lemons of Tuscany. It's rather cloudy and grey in Tuscany at the moment and this fragrance brings sun. Lots of it, and those rugged clouds and clear blue sky that look so good on landscape photographs.
Hyle is marketed in 100ml bottles of eau de parfum; I would add a bottle of alcohol and dilute it to lots of cologne to pour all over. Irreverent, maybe, but very suitable for hot summer.

Farmacia SS. Annunziata: Chia

Farmacia SS. Annunziata doesn't have a decent and informative website - what a pity. When I got a bottle of the fantastic Patchouly Indonesiano, the pharmacist gave me a handful of samples; I planned to go through them for quite some time but kept delaying it for various reasons but I decided to deal with the backlog of tasks. After all, surprisingly enough, things get done when one works on them.

So, the first sample I took from the pile was Chia.
The brochure I got in the pharmacy gives a brief description and the notes thusly:
Moon, the lunar aroma, perfume from another planet.
Top notes: Almond, orange
Middle notes: rose, boiled sugar*, hazelnut
Base notes: vanilla, amber, oakmoss
The samples are in the form of gel so the first impression was Awful goo! Ick, but then I smelled the scent. At the beginning, it was very weak - orange in the top notes is barely perceptible. Very soon, the sugar note becomes prominent, along with the hazelnuts. On a closer inspection - while sniffing my hand - I could smell both the pungent orange and the soapy note of rose but the general sweetness is very pervading. I can smell a touch of cocoa but that's maybe due to the hazelnut and sugar notes. It actually says zucchero filato, whatever it may mean, but it reminded me of my great-grandma who used to make sugar toppings by boiling sugar in water and it was of the right consistence when the thing wouldn't drip from the spoon but make 'threads' - then, one would add flavourings (lemon juice or rose water, usually) and pour on the cake.
After an hour or so, the floral notes disappear and the scent is just sweet - nuts in caramel, I'd say. Oddly enough, the very end is floral again.
Totally a gourmet scent - I don't know about oakmoss and amber but the rest is perfectly well edible. It's perfectly wearable, though, since the fragrance keeps close to the skin so no need to worry that some miserable cake-deprived dieter will gnaw into your arm on the bus.

Saturday, 11 April 2009


Created by Hubert Fraysse in 1928; a floral-woody aldehyde chypre parfum with notes of tangerine, neroli, galbanum, acacia farnesiana, narcissus, hyacinth, ylang-ylang, May rose, lily of the valley, oak moss, civet, sandalwood and musk, classified D3f.
Discontinued (date unknown)

Perfume notes after Perfume Intelligence

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Regarding the earthquakes in Italy

I want to tell you that I'm fine, alive, no troubles in and around Florence at all.

I'll add something later on but I have some pressing matters at my heels.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Out in the wild

I sometimes think that I'm somewhat intelligent and then the world shows me that... not really so.
There was a school trip to Pistoia. The programme was something along the lines of Churches of the mendicant orders, blah, blah, three more lines. Meeting at 0930 in front of San Francesco church in Pistoia. I went to the station, at every ticket vending machine, there was a bunch of idiots toying with the software so meantime I missed the train. Well, the trains to Pistoia go every now and then so I checked, there was another due in 20 minutes, I found it, settled onboard, read or something, then the train started moving, then there was the announcement, "Welcome onboard of Italian railways, the train stops at Firenze Campo di Marte..." Well, Pistoia is on the other side, but whatever, thought I, "... somewhere, somewhere else, San Giovanni di Valdarno, Figline Valdarno..." Holy shit, wrong train. I got off at Campo di Marte - back home, I live across the street from the station - hopped on the bus, got to SMN again, boarded the right train, got to Pistoia more than an hour late and now what. I had no clue about the exact plans because I happily forgot what stood in the e-mail.
Since I've had rigorous and demanding training in history of urbanism, among others, I knew that almost every town with a railway station has a railway street perpendicular (moreless) to the tracks and that this railway street goes to the centre. And, after all, I've already been to Pistoia although I didn't remember all the details. I went to the main square, asked for a map in the information centre, discovered that I left the shift lens behind so no architecture photography today (shit, shit, shit, it was the bestest architecture photography weather. Luckily, that sort of crisp, cold light is not so rare here as back North) and I decided to make a round of all the mendicant churches. Or those I thought mendicant.
The folks weren't seen in the vicinity of San Francesco, after all, it was eleven or so. I continued towards Piazzetta Scalceati, after all, the mendicant monks sometimes went barefoot. No trace of art historians aroud Sta. Maria a Ripalta.

Next was the San Andrea - I was surprised that it had the green and white marble facade, I thought that San Zeno, baptistery and San Giovanni Fuorcivitas are enough elaborate facades for a small town. Well, one lives and learns. No trace of art historians either.

Santa Maria del Carmine was rebuilt, nothing cool and medieval, and neither there were any art historians to be seen.

In via del Gobbo, I could see a nice example of Communism in urbanism: If the public space belongs to all, why couldn't we grab a bit of it.
San Bartolomeo: another elaborate marble facade, pretty inside, no art historians in the general vicinity.

Santissima Annunziata at Piazza dei Servi - totally empty, not a single art historian.
San Pietro - shows two facades, pretty, no art historians around.

Meantime, it got pretty warm, I took off that big thick black sweatshirt and walked around in a tank top. Natives still wear coats and furs so I think that for some, I was the sight of the day. I would welcome if they could avoid shouting at other natives and pointing at me. Maybe it's something ethnic and I should appreciate it but, hey.

I went back to the main square - no trace of art historians even around the baptistery, so I got somewhat angry and decided to go back to the station and back home. I took another route, via piazza Garibaldi... and there they were, the professor pointing at something on the portal of San Domenico.
Then the art history thing could start.

note: I yet have to learn HTML to get the layout right.
note II.: I managed somehow. Hope.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Cristalle Eau Verte

The news havent been around so long so I needed to sacrifice a gallon of blood of various innocent creatures, ask a few friends from the Let's Rule the World secret conspiracy whose plan is to rule the world and there was more effort exerted. But, today, a bottle of the new Chanel fragrance arrived.
I am mildly disappointed that the box is not green. Or at least the framing, the Chanel folks undoubtedly have taste and sense of humour enough but... well, one can't have everything.

No pic of the box but it's white and silver and Chanel. Camera ran out of batteries. To conform to the context, I even turned my universal background cloth (the who guesses what it is may get a candy) to the patterned side because, well, it matches.
I haven't found the notes described somewhere - well, I might look at the box, in fact but that would be lame. My unexperienced nose says: Lemon, more lemon, some lime, a pinch of aldehydes for the top; middle notes are lemon and something a bit sweeter, then something I call for myself chopped grass. I have yet to wait for the drydown but my guess is some vetiver. Overall, the fragrance is indeed citrusy and green and if it doesn't become this summer's hit, I'll eat my shoes.
Now excuse me, I'll splash more of it on me and I'll go back to writing an intelligent post about Santa Reparata.

Santa Reparata

Santa Reparata preceded the current cathedral, the well-known and oh-so-kitschified Santa Maria del Fiore. In 1296, the construction of Sta. Maria del Fiore began, staring with the apses, but the old church remained for almost80 years more, until 1374, when it was torn down to make space for the new cathedra.

The first phase is vaguely dated 'after 313', meaning after the Edict of Milan and 'somewhere between the 5th and 6th centuries, based on the style of floor mosaic, the only remaining element of the paleochristian cathedral. The mosaic includes a list of donors and the amounts they provided - I wonder whether there was some tax exemption on pious gifts, too? and an image of a peacock, a symbol of eternity. The eternal nature of peacock, I hear, is based on the fact that peacock meat lasts longer than other meat, which was important feature before the advent of fridges. My hunter uncle, however, says that he has eaten a peacock once, or rather gagged over a roasted peacock, because it tastes awful. Which may explain why would it last for so long but I'm not able to judge the early Medieval desire of proteins.
In 869, the bishop Andrea went to Lucca on an imperial mission and he might have got toknow the rare cult of Santa Reparata there but he hasn't brought any relics – after all, the martyr of Antiochia may never have existed. Hardly anything can be related to the activity of Andrea, more stable ground resurfaces only in the 11th century when the church was rebuilt. What is preserved are the massive pillars of the nave and the crypt that was however deprived of its vault. Now, only one column remained, with a classicizing capital which is a good example of how Romanesque art recycled the antique elements: the capital employs the elements of a frieze.

The last reconstruction of Santa Reparata took place in the late 12th/early 13th centuries. New facade was created, with mosaic inlays in red, black and gold – a Roman thing, in Tuscany, inlays were to use yet for quite some time only the white and green marbles of Carrara and Prato respectively. Some of the fragments were found during the reconstruction in the late 1960's – turned upside down, they served as a pavement.