The Atelier

It is like suddenly stepping into an old Florentine workshop and uncovering centuries of experiences, alchemic weavings, and penetrating, evocative fragrances. Once over the threshold, an entire world opens up to reveal a complex web of strong cultural and family roots, a thousand reflections of distant lands and an indubitable sense of belonging to Florence, an ideal place for comparisons, challenges, the creation of art and processing of thoughts. Lorenzo Villoresi’s laboratory is nestled on the top floor of an ancestral family home looking onto the medieval development of Via de’ Bardi, one of the most noble and ancient of Florentine streets. In a type of forge, surrounded by hundreds of essences in jars and small bottles lining the olivewood shelving, among stills and glass tubes, beakers and vials, hidden in the suffuse, friendly half-light, he forms his creations.

Here, in this small, cosy studio, indirectly lit with a suspended light, with its time-worn preciously-coloured Caucasian carpet and unique decorations, Lorenzo gives life to his psychological-alchemic inventions, having first identified their mysterious components by weighing them on miniscule precision scales, then mixing them to continue with his precise yet expressive line.

The first phase of the creative process is carried out in an environment that is somewhat arcane, pacifying, protected from the noise of the city and decidedly meditative. Here Villoresi establishes a profound connection, taking an analytical approach to find a perfume that truly represents his persona, rummaging through materials and notes that seem distant and irreconcilable, like passing along streets lost in our memories, fragments of sensations, not only olfactory, emotional polaroids of joyful days consigned to oblivion or fading in the current of our memories.

The vast room which follows, accessible via three steps made of Serena sandstone, is a loggia suspended high over the Arno, which seems almost to mark its seal and the journey’s end. A renaissance luminosity, white and triumphant, pervades.. The hearth is lit; the circular coffee table made of olive tree root wood was handcrafted by Villoresi himself many years ago in Monte MorelloAbove an old piano hangs a large 20’ portrait of the perfumist’s maternal grandmother, a strong and propitious presence, affectionate yet solemn. On the walls are relics of a great-uncle’s travels, a nineteenth-century ship’s captain, Chinese dynasty scrolls and a collection of vinyl records. Large sofas and chairs and an alcove containing cherished books inspire conversation.The loggia contains a large nineteenth-century table, used for entertaining guests.

Your gaze is lost, liberated, moving effortlessly over Florence, its churches, towers and buildings. The rolling hills of Settignano, Maiano and Fiesole stretch, green and blue, as far as the eye can see. On one side, the extreme height of a line of trees in Boboli Gardens is transformed into a dense enchanting forest. The Arno drifts by, seemingly placid and imperturbable, crossed by the geometric paths carved into its surface by oarsmen; it skims the arches of Ponte Vecchio and caresses the Uffizi, before passing into the distance, dazzling like gold leaf, liquid metal in appearance. By night, everything changes once more, the scene unravels into light and shade, fragmented into superb detail isolated by cold cones of light. High up, the church of San Miniato in Monte emerges like a ghost from the darkness, surreal with its snow-white façade traced with dark marble. Finally, Florence surrenders herself: the Belle Dame sans merci, so close and yet still so enigmatic.

Cesare Cunaccia