The hustle of the Ponte Vecchio can often overwhelm any traveller and lead one to quickly whisk past the nearby streets, the ones worth visiting, the escape the summer crowds. Indeed, many people don’t even venture over the city's old bridge to explore the Oltrarno district to the south of the city, home to the impressive Palazzo Pitti and Boboli gardens, and the artist haunt of Piazza Santo Spirito.  But stop if you can. For just meters from the Ponte Vecchio, on Borgo San Jacopo, are many intriguing and independent stores well worth a look. One worth a detour is perfumery, Ortigia.

Ortigia produces locally made perfumes inspired by Sicily and her native plants. Products include eau de parfum, perfume oil, candles, room essences, as well as body and hand creams, soaps, shower gels, bath oils and salts. There is something for every bathroom. Established in 2006 by Sue Townsend, one of the founding owners of Crabtree & Evelyn, the celebrated bath produce stores in the U.K., her Italian shop is intoxicating. Behind the palm tree adorned glass front door is a colourful wonderland of fragrant treats to suit any budget. The store is designed in rows of black, silver and white with shelves holding brightly coloured and beautifully packaged products. Nutty almond, Lavender, Sicilian Lime, Orange Blossom and Sweet Pomegranate are a few of the ranges to choose from (for the full range, click here).

All Ortigia products are made with natural paraben-free ingredients which are sourced in Tuscany and ethically produced by small family-run companies.  The packaging, designed by Miss Townsend, is inspired by Sicily’s rich and diverse history and much of it is hand made. The scents have been created in conjunction with one of Italy’s most famed perfumers. Part of the enjoyment of purchasing beauty products is the testing, and if you find yourself by the famous bridge in Florence take a little right turn to find Ortigia. There is something here for any beauty product lover. Just deciding which scent is your favourite could be the hardest choice to make.

Picture credit: Ilaria Costanzo