I am drawn to mystery. Some of the reasons I love Florence are the many streets to explore or palazzo courtyards to see or shops to enter because they draw you in with a sense of intrigue. Aqua Flor combines all of these – an intriguing perfumery set within a beautiful palazzo full of perfume products crafted with passion, a space to be seen and smelt.

We have five senses and for a good reason. At Aqua Flor it’s not only your sense of smell that is tantalised, but your vision is also drawn in as well. Created by perfume Master Sileno Cheloni, the store harks back to a bygone era of Florence. Set in an antique 16th-century palazzo in the Santa Croce district, space is made up of three rooms on the ground floor. Beneath glorious arched ceilings, large wooden cabinets contain rows of brown glass bottles filled with botanical ingredients while orange light fixtures add ambiance to the rooms that weave around a discreet inner courtyard.


Sileno started his perfumery in Lucca before moving to Florence three years ago, inspired by traditions of botanic extraction from the Renaissance period of the city's history. As far back as the Medici times, scientists were curious on how to extract scents from plants, a curiosity which remains with Sileno today.

Sileno studied with a master perfumer who specialises in natural scents before heading to Milan where he worked for one of the biggest suppliers of essences and aromas in Italy. Regular trips to Cairo to study were also fundamental in his creative formation and shaped Aqua Flor’s philosophy: not to be a commercial industry, rather use rare and sophisticated materials to create a small number of scents for clients to enjoy.


Over 1500 ingredients are used to create such masterpieces. Within the palazzo is a laboratory where new perfume concepts and individual bottles for clients are developed; Sileno can create a bespoke perfume just for you should you desire a truly unique scent.

Beyond perfumes, Aqua Flor produces colognes, soaps, creams, candles and fragrant salts in many ranges.

When you enter the doors of Aqua Flor you experience the ambiance of a true workshop dedicated to the fine art of perfume making. As Sileno explains, "perfume evokes memories and has a powerful effect on our senses", as does this truly unique place in the heart of Florence.

Photography: David Andrew Weiss