There’s something to be said about the power of scent. Fragrances and aromas can transport you to faraway lands or bring back childhood memories, enthral and captivate.
Sometimes, they can even pack the essence of a place, and the history that comes with it.
Enter Essenzialmente Laura, a Rome-based perfumery and fragrance brand we’ve recently fallen hard for.
Created by professional “nose” Laura Bosetti Tonatto, the company blends unique melanges inspired by artists and paintings, time periods, travels and cultural symbols, giving life to collections of candles, diffusers and even skin products that smell divine – and exude a specific sense of identity.
Among her many creations, it’s the incense of “Chiese di Roma” (Roman Churches) we found ourselves returning to over and over again.
If you’ve ever been to the Eternal City, you’ll easily understand why: the myriad churches we’re surrounded with all have a very specific scent that is as much a part of Rome’s allure as its ruins and restaurants. If we had to describe it, we’d say it’s a mix of holy artworks and ancient relics, beams of light streaming through stained glass windows and rich marbles. Yes, those things are physical, but in a Roman church they manage to take on a genuine, one-of-a-kind olfactory quality.
By the simple light of a wick, Essenzialmente Laura’s “Chiese di Roma ” incense replicates all that, making way for a Proustian madeleine kind of moment we think you, too, will adore.
We talked to Laura to learn more about the brand and the work that goes into each and every one of its sensory experiences. Read on and get your very own incense – or gift it to someone who, like you, loves the Bel Paese.
Tell us about your career. How did you get started?
I started working with scents and fragrances in 1986, creating perfumes for major cosmetic companies and customised melanges. I studied the secrets of oriental perfumery in Cairo, then explored the techniques of French perfume masters in Grasse, a town on the French Riviera, with Guy Robert [the second head perfumer for the house of Chanel].
Through the years, I’ve taught cosmetic science and technology at the University of Ferrara, curated “Caravaggio: a painting, a perfume” for the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg in 2017 and has created a bespoke collection for the Queen Elizabeth II of England.
You’re from Turin but are now based in Rome. What do you like about the Eternal City?
Rome is one of the most welcoming places I’ve ever been in. It made me feel welcome from the very beginning. I love how open Romans are – their curiosity is something that’s definitely seeped through my creations. The Churches of Rome incense is a case in point.
Tell us more about it!
It’s part of a tryptic of scents inspired by the Bible and, in part, Rome itself, given how deep the connection between the sacred and profane is here. Scent is a key aspect of the Christian liturgy – it often leads to contemplation and mysticism. I was interested in exploring that and creating an essence that could stir similar emotions while being charged with deeper meaning.
What’s the ‘nose’ of the incense?
It’s a blend of resinous timbre, balsamic, woody, and warm amber.
Would you recommend using it in specific environments?
An intimate space within the house, or in front of an open window – somewhere where it can remind you of the beauty you saw in Rome and, why not, inspire you to book your next trip to our stunning capital.
Why do you think we’re so drawn to scents and perfumes?
Smell is the only one of our senses directly connected to the regions of the brain which form memory (the hippocampus) and process emotion (the amygdala). It’s a powerful force that triggers curiosity and a sense of discovery. I think that’s why we are mesmerised by it – it shapes our experience of the world.
How would you describe Essenzialmente Laura in three words?
Originality, rarity, and a genuine sense of curiosity.
What does launching on ISSIMO mean for you?
ISSIMO, to me, captures a very special way of interpreting and living life. It’s a collection of thoughtfully curated things – not just objects, but ideas, too. It mirrors my own ethos, and I am thrilled to have Essenzialmente Laura on it.