It’s too weird to see how my hometown has changed in the three years I’ve been away. Bethesda is so fancy now! There’s an Apple store where the old Blockbuster used to be, and I counted at least two organic juice bars. They’ve been upping the Bethesda beauty game, too; the past few years have seen a new Sephora, bluemercury, and, most recently, a Santa Maria Novella boutique. Santa Maria Novella has a charmingly old-world backstory: they claim to have originated as an Italian pharmacy in 1612. Who knows? This boutique doesn’t look much like any of the Italian pharmacies I’ve ever seen (too spacious), but the products and packaging do have a pleasing apothecary vibe.
I desperately wanted to take pictures of this adorable shop for y’all, but I was regretfully informed by the very sweet SAs that SMN does not allow photography. Instead, they gave me my very own scroll with information on SMN’s history and products. A scroll, y’all! This must be what Moses felt like. I will treasure it always (and by treasure, I mean “try not to let Zelda use it as a cat toy”).
They also generously made me a sample of the satisfyingly meaty Santa Maria Novella Amber cologne. Imagine that you were to wear a standard amber perfume while barbecuing for a few hours. The end result would be something like this smoky, savory take on amber. SMN Amber is bone-dry, making it as intimidating as it is intriguing. SMN calls this a cologne, but it’s resolutely unisex (unless the smell of barbecue has a gendered component that I’m somehow missing). If SMN offered sizes other than 100 ml, I would have bought it on the spot.