The centuries-old Farmacia del Cinghiale sits on the ancient Piazza del Mercato Nuovo in the heart of medieval Florence; the Statua del Porcellino, whose snout should be rubbed to ensure a return to Florence (take note!), is one of the square's most famous symbols. The square was a gathering place for the most notable citizens and merchants trading silk and gold. The apothecary  was a highly regarded personality in town, explains Filippa Arcuri, the current owner of the pharmacy who welcomed me to the store with her husband Maurizio Incorvaia.

“That old inclination to listen and to comfort patients, which made the figure of the pharmacist so popular, is what we pursue here,” Arcuri explained to me. “We have created a familiar environment. People today feel a need to talk and to relate to others, and we are here to listen to them. I feel as if we are carrying on the legacy of those old times.”

The first official records mentioning the pharmacy date back to 1752; however, it is believed to have been there earlier than that. The first documented pharmacist working at the Farmacia del Cinghiale, Florentine doctor Girolamo Nicolò Branchi della Torre, prepared its own remedies in the laboratory of the pharmacy. He was credited with making chemical experiments that marked the passage from the magic of alchemy to the science of chemistry, to the point that the Grand Duke of Tuscany asked him to open the first School of Chemistry in Pisa in 1757.

In keeping with tradition, the current owners have their lab where they manufacture both traditional and natural drugs. "We are a point of reference for many doctors in Florence who need to prescribe drugs that are no longer available on the market," said Incorvaia. "We make them right in our laboratory in the back of the store."

The pharmacy has another laboratory, located in Fano, Le Marche, on the Adriatic Coast, for the production of a complete line of natural products for personal care, such as face lotions, shampoo, soaps and perfumes, labeled Farmacia del Cinghiale. "We create our own formulas and use all natural ingredients; for example, we produce an exfoliating face lotion made with apricot pit micro-particles," Arcuri explained. "We are also shifting our production to become entirely certified organic."

The pharmacy also makes ad hoc products based on the client’s needs, for example to cure skin problems or hair loss. “All of us who work here contribute to helping restore the well-being of our clients,” Arcuri pointed out.

It is not just about the body though; what Arcuri especially cares about, along with her faithful staff (some employees have been working at the pharmacy for 40 years), are the mind and the spirit of her clients. While the pharmacy sells all traditional medicine, what they really specialize in is alternative medicine: homeopathy, herbal therapy, flowers therapy, aromatherapy.

Arcuri is especially passionate about flowers therapy and is an expert on the Australian Bush Flower Essences. “Emotions are at the core of our human experience and if they are not taken care of, they cause imbalances,” she explained. “Flower essences go directly into your soul creating energy waves of emotion restoring that lost balance.”

While Arcuri can prepare ad hoc blends based on the work done with the client, there are also ready mixes available for the most common types of problem, such as menopause side effects, anxiety, lack of energy or self-confidence, concentration.

Guess what the best-seller is? Stress Stop.