I first discovered Carthusia when I was in Liberty of London where I was suddenly enthralled by their fragrances and was overjoyed when I received a bottle of their 2007 fragrance, Numero Uno. It’s exhilarating blend immediately captivated me and I couldn’t wait to find out about this fragrance house which is based on the renowned Italian Island of Capri. In 2019 I visited the island and was lucky enough to meet with Francesca Vuotto from Carthusia who showed me around their beautiful store and gave me a sneak peek of what goes on behind the scenes of their small perfume laboratory.
Walking the meandering streets of Capri I immediately knew I was approaching Carthusia. There was an enchanting fragrance that scented the air as I raced towards its entrance. Its storefront was as traditional and quant as I had hoped for, covered in green foliage, colourful flowers and a trickling water feature.
Its historic symbol created by painter Mario Laboccetta was proudly displayed above its entrance, portraying a “flower siren” a character representing the surreal and mythological landscapes of Capri’s heritage.
Carthusia’s creation has a wonderful historical story that really connects it to the Island of Capri. Legend has it that in 1380, after hearing that Queen Joan of Anjou was visiting Capri, the father-prior of the Carthusian Monastery of St. James, picked a bouquet of the finest flowers from the island. These remained in the same water for three days and, as he went to discard them, he noticed that it had developed a mysterious and captivating fragrance. So he turned to the friar who specialised in alchemy, who then created the first perfume in Capri called “Garofilium Silvestre Caprese”. In 1948 the Prior of the Charterhouse found the old perfume formula and with the permission of the Pope, revealed them to a chemist from Piemonte in the north of Italy, thus created the smallest perfume laboratory in the world, calling it “Carthusia,” i.e., “charter house”.
The Carthusia perfumery sits on an elevated position perfectly located near the scenic Gardens of Augustus and looking out onto the azure waters below. Walking into the store I was completely taken by surprise to how beautiful it was. The interior transported you back in time with its dark wooden counters and shelves lined with several fragrances and jars of dried flowers.
Hand-painted motifs on the walls echoed the flowers and herbs used in the fragrances and a small spiral staircase added to its old-style character.
Tucked away behind the storefront was the surprisingly small factory where all the magic takes place. I was shocked to see how small the room was considering that the fragrances are distributed all over the world. This just goes to show how dedicated Carthusia is to share these beautiful fragrances all over the globe whilst still managing to retain its original roots.
Large metallic vessels holding each of the blended fragrances line the walls of the laboratory, ready to be decanted. Craftsmen in pristine white coats work passionately to create each fragrance, filling and labelling each bottle by hand.
My favourite fragrance is Numero Uno and not surprisingly I previously featured it in a video review which you can view here. I especially love this scent due to its citrusy and woody notes, but there are many more beautiful unisex fragrances to discover such as the lovely Io Capri, Corallanium and Meditteraneo which I also gravitate towards.
So, when you visit Southern Italy and wander around the streets of the Amalfi coast, you will no doubt come across a delicate array of fragrances that scent the air. Follow your nose as you are probably within walking distance of the nearest Carthusia store. Carthusia has managed to capture the true essence of Capri in every bottle, therefore when your return home to the grey skies, with just one spray, you will be transported back to the stunning sun-drenched Italian Island.