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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

La Via del Profumo Italian Series: Giardini Segreti and Milano Caffè (And a Prize Draw!)

By Donna

Picture yourself in a secluded garden, with only the birds for company. It's an old garden; there is a film of algae in the pond and fountain, moss on the marble statues, and the trees are gnarled and bent, their advanced age masked only by the tangle of vines climbing their trunks. The walls might be made of stone, or an impenetrable hedge, and they keep the noise of the modern world out and allow the silence to settle in, broken only by the sigh of a gentle breeze and the murmur of water. Wide paths wind enticingly through this hushed green refuge, and at each turn there is a different vista, a new delight – the arching branches of an antique rose flaunting its plump pink blooms, a collection of aromatic herbs clustered around a sundial, a stand of elegant sky-blue irises, or a jasmine in full flower tumbling over a wall, spilling its exquisite scent throughout the garden. This is a garden of dreams and reverie, and if you happened to see a poet or noblewoman dressed in Renaissance garb walking around, it would seem like the most natural thing in the world. This is the magical effect of the new Giardini Segreti from La Via del Profumo, an homage to the hidden gardens and storied past of Venice. The main floral notes are jasmine and rose, decorated with herbal touches and resting on a base of soft leather, mysterious myrrh and a hint of the nearby sea that come from real ambergris, a rare and precious thing indeed in modern perfumery.

Of course, this is a very special kind of scent, made of completely natural materials in honor of the perfumer's adopted home country of Italy. The luscious jasmine Sambac in this fragrance is particularly sublime, and since my skin tends to amplify white florals, it is quite dominant at first, but that's fine with me, since I love jasmine, and the languid dreaminess of the composition speaks to my own personality as a lover of gardens, history, beautiful vintage objects, and good stories. The rose is the handmaiden to the jasmine here, adding a ripe fullness and plush comfort to the centerpiece of jasmine. I don't know what pure ambergris smells like, but its inclusion in this perfume seems to give in an overall patina of nostalgia and wistfulness, like the ineffable pull of memory experienced when looking at faded photographs of places you have never been, but to which you feel a deep connection, and you wish you could somehow become a part of that long ago scene, where all the rough edges have been erased by time, leaving only the watercolor beauty of happy memories and idyllic living. Wearing Giardini Segreti is like stepping into that fantasy world, and I never want to leave it.


In sharp contrast, Milano Caffè is a fragrance of modern life, of rubbing shoulders with your fellow urbanites in the crowded coffee houses, reveling in the hustle and bustle of city life while stealing a moment of relaxation out of your busy day. For a natural perfume you may find it to be surprisingly urbane and sophisticated if you are not accustomed to the formidable talent of perfumer AbdesSalaam Attar (Dominique Dubrana), and it sits on the skin in perfect comfort and assurance right from the beginning with none of the sometimes disconcerting rough stage that naturals sometimes pass through before they settle down and begin to coalesce.

It is by no means a coffee “solibrew” (for lack of a better term) or novelty scent, but a complex composition that also includes a profound chocolate note, dry woods, tonka bean, opoponax and warm spices. However, make no mistake, coffee is the star of the show, and it's a darkly bitter brew that hits the nose like a triple shot of the best espresso you ever tasted. The perfume's longevity is excellent and its development fascinating; it most definitely does not get too sweet over time like some other coffee scents, and it should find favor with both men and women. This is the kind of fragrance that almost makes me wish for winter so I can wear it all the time, and I feel a different kind of nostalgia with it – an overwhelming desire to visit a real Milanese coffee house. I have never been to Italy, but smelling Milano Caffè makes me even more determined to go there someday.

I am offering a sample of both perfumes to two lucky readers; sorry, you must live in the continental U.S. A. in order to enter the draw due to international mailing restrictions on perfume. Please indicate in the comments if you would like to be entered, and let us know if you have ever tried and fragrances from this line, and if so, what are your favorites? The draw will close one week after the publication of this post. Good luck!

Image credits: Garden: One of the real “secret” gardens of Venice, courtesy of Abdes Salaam Attar. Coffee: Original image from via
Disclosure: I received samples of these perfumes directly from La Via del Profumo at my request for testing purposes.

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Blogger Unknown said...

I love Mecca Balsam, and wish I could try more easily! Thanks for the drawing. :-)

12:49 AM EDT  
Blogger Maren said...

These both sound amazing and thank you for the draw.

1:07 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

DNEM because my samples just arrived from La Via del Profumi too. Can't wait to wear them and see if my experience is similar,
Portia xx

2:36 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry if I comment twice here - I don't mean to enter myself twice, but my browser's being difficult. Feel free to delete one of my comments, if two show up.

I've not tried anything from this line, but I'd love to. Thank you for the opportunity!

3:51 AM EDT  
Blogger Tama said...

I have Oasis, which is a lovely floral. These both sound terrific! Thanks for the draw.

4:07 AM EDT  
Blogger Judy said...

I have not tried these, but they sound wonderful! Thanks for the chance to try them.

6:25 AM EDT  
Blogger rosarita said...

I have not tried this line, but your descriptions are mesmerizing! Thank you for the draw.

9:31 AM EDT  
Blogger Stephanie said...

I've never tried this line but would love to!

10:31 AM EDT  
Blogger Mel said...

I have not tried this line, but I do love the descriptions of the fragrances! My daytime go-to has been Miss Marisa Nuit (or Angel or Tabac Blonde in winter) and I am looking to branch out with jasmine... and who doesn't love coffee. Thank you!

10:34 AM EDT  
Blogger wefadetogray said...

Sadly I have not yet tried any scent from this line yet Milano Caffe sounds just perfect for me. I'd love to be entered. Thanks for the draw.

11:53 AM EDT  
Blogger Stacey said...

Wow, these both sound great. I haven't tried any in this line yet, so I would love to be entered. Thanks!

2:16 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No I have not tried these.

2:25 PM EDT  
Blogger woodgirl said...

Have never tried this house, but Milano Caffe sounds great! Thanks for the draw.

2:50 PM EDT  
Blogger Stacey Walls said...

I've never tried this house but wanted to for ages. Milano Caffe is one I've been very intrigued by. Thanks for the draw!

4:31 PM EDT  
Blogger Unknown said...

I haven't had the pleasure of sniffing any of this line. I really enjoy DSH's Cafe Noir, though, which may be more incense-y than Milano Caffe. I would love to try these. Many thanks!

6:24 PM EDT  
Blogger Kate Curry said...

I feel like I am already in love with Giardini Segreti. Or at the very least your description of it. Sign me up for the draw please!

8:18 PM EDT  
Blogger Cynthia said...

These sound so nice. I have not tried any fragrances from this line, although the reviews are always enticing.

9:34 AM EDT  
Blogger Unknown said...

These both sound delightful and I would love to sample these. I have not smelled anything else from this line. I am in the U.S. Thank you.

1:30 PM EDT  
Blogger Janet said...

I haven't tried any of this line but I think I need to!

Thanks for the draw.

10:52 PM EDT  
Blogger Smedley said...

Oooooh. I'd love the opportunity to try a Coffee scent.

Coffee gives warmth to a scent along with a certain organic feeling which I happen to adore. There is a nice coffee note present in Bond No. 9 New Haarlem, Ava Luxe Cafe Noir, and Neil Morris Ismir.

Milano Caffè sounds like a good one to try.
Thank you.

11:13 AM EDT  
Blogger Susan said...

I'd love to be entered! I haven't tried any from this line sadly. Thank you for the draw.

5:42 PM EDT  
Blogger bing said...

I'd love to be entered! New silent reader here (: I haven't tried anything yet, but I'm waiting for my Arabia sample to arrive. But I'm also dying to try all the versions of Mecca Balsam and Oud Caravan....

6:56 AM EDT  
Blogger mridula said...

I'd love to try these. This is the first time I am hearing about this line. Please enter me.

11:03 AM EDT  
Blogger Flora said...

THIS DRAWING IS NOW CLOSED. The winners will be announced soon. good luck!

10:11 PM EDT  

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