November 29, 2006
Carthusia - Via Camerelle
The initial scent was created when they noticed that the water holding the flowers picked for a visit from a Queen held their fragrance, and the local alchemist helped make up a recipe to match the scent. Capri has always been famous for its natural environmental fragrances, the abundant crops of roses the emperors used for their hedonistic parties practically smothered the guests. There is a legend that one fellow did end up dying that way, smothered by rose petals; what a way to go...
This small perfumeworks was one of the initial motivations for my interest in perfumes of this kind, that is perfume made by hand by individuals, rather than by large conglomerates using arcane chemicals.
Since that time I have been seduced by the great perfumes which use man-made chemistry, but my first and greatest love will always be those made with the extracts of nature. The EDT Via Camerelle is very very light, but it has remarkable staying power for all that. It conveys a citrus tone with bergamot, Sicilian lemon and bitter orange blending into marjoram, water lily and jasmine, with basenotes of musk, amber and marine accords. Its sheer quality is held together with an underpinning of cedarwood, which seems to ground it and probably is the element that gives its delicacy some power.
It's a good one for use at the workplace, or for weekend wear, as a refined light unisex fragrance. I notice that if there are strong smells in the environment (I'm thinking of the train station, with it's tone of bleach and soot) you may not be able to smell it on yourself, but on getting into a quieter olfactory environment, the scent is still there, noticeably surrounding the body near the areas of application, and quietly aiding your enjoyment of the day.
It holds close to the body, which is a good thing for a workplace or certain other environments. The Via Camerelle is an elegant shopping street in Capri, and in tone this EDT matches that idea of sophistication while on a mental vacation attitude. The above photo is from their site and shows their shop entrance on that street.
The Carthusians are held to be the "highest" order of monks, meaning the strictest, basically hermetic and silent except for prayers together and twice a week at meals, following rules established in 1084. There was a recent documentary "Into Great Silence" which got very intriguing reviews, to be released soon on DVD. Their medieval perfume recipes were rediscovered in the 1940s, and the pope gave permission to have a small laboratory produce the fragrances so the monastery could share in the income and be self supporting.