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Cortona, Tuscany

A few years ago, I wrote about a men’s fragrance, Tuscany per Uomo, or Tuscany for Men, by Aramis from Estée Lauder. Today is about Tuscany per Donna, or Tuscany for Women, the 2012 version from the Estée Lauder Classic Collection, not the original 1992 version from Aramis. Both these fragrances truly capture the scent of the beautiful Tuscan region in Italy, but let’s set the scene before I tell you more about Tuscany per Donna… 

Halfway through university I took time out and travelled through Europe, not by train like many students, but with a best friend in her brand-new Austin Healey 3000 MKIII sports car which she had just bought in London. This iconic car was British racing green with tan leather interior, plus  it had overdrive, which meant it was FAST. It was the perfect vehicle for two young women barely adults, who understood and spoke only English, and who had little experience with anything that actually related to real life. Needless to say, we were noticed wherever we went, especially in Italy.

It was mid-summer in Italy. We drove with the top down wearing our RayBans and Audrey Hepburn head scarves. Any similarity to movie stars was totally intentional. Italians love beautiful design and appreciate fine craftsmanship, and Italian men love fast cars and pretty women, and the shiny Healey 3000 sports car showcasing the two of us embodied all those elements. Our best times happened in Tuscany where that sleek little car connected us with fascinating people, leading to the discovery of beautiful old towns and homes and experiences that were beyond our wildest imagination. Someday I may write a book about it.

For one entire week we drove through the Tuscan hills visiting small towns, at dawn, at high noon, in the golden light of late afternoon and in the warm hazy dusk, and what I remember most vividly is the palette, the colour of the lansdcape. The intense blue of the sky, the golden hills edged with elegant tall cypress trees, red tile roofs, yellow-ochre buildings, dust, heat waves shimmering on the horizon. And I remember the smell of the countryside - sun-warmed earth and stones, grasses and herbs, lemon and olive groves, sweet white flowers, vineyards, pine trees, the aromas on the breeze. I close my eyes, and I’m there. 

Tuscany per Donna takes me there, too. A single spritz on my wrists and I’m in that special place in the Tuscan countryside, a villa with a wide-lens view of olive trees and grapevines covering the terraced hillsides, lemon and orange trees scenting the patio. Tart juicy citrus and ripe fruit blend with herbal garden notes into an enticing waft, which leads into the floral heart.  The distinctive indolic white petals of jasmine and sweet honeysuckle are spiced with rose, carnation, and peony, a heady mix of lush romantic flowers which becomes relaxed and expansive in the drydown with the addition of airy sandalwood and ambery vanilla. Notes of soft musk add a mellow warmth to the dry down, echoing the golden afternoon light, and giving Tuscany per Donna a luminous relaxed sensuality that is unmistakably Italian.

Perfume The A-Z Guide describes Tuscany per Uomo, the men’s fragrance: “Tuscany has an open-collar ease and generous airy feel, with plenty of room for big gestures, without ever overwhelming either wearer or passerby”. Tuscany per Donna has that same unique quality. Never too intrusive or provocative, the eau de parfum is appropriate for any age, fresh and radiant, then warm and airy and relaxed, the kind of fragrance that feels timeless and serene and confident in its natural feminine beauty, the kind of fragrance to wear anywhere or anytime, and which makes people want to lean into you because you smell so good!

Tuscany per Donna captures the romance and soul of the Tuscan countryside, exactly as I remember it. I’m so glad I finally decided to buy a bottle. Easy to find at the Estée Lauder counter, and moderately priced, Tuscany per Donna is proof you don’t have to empty your bank account to own a beautiful fragrance.

Tuscany per Donna is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $5.00 for 1 ml.

Image - Wikimedia Commons - by Helle Krog, August 5, 2009


Narcissus poeticus 

Our son brought his girlfriend over to the house a couple of weeks ago to meet the family. She's a lovely young woman – warm, smart and gorgeous – and we were taken with her right away. While I was putting the finishing touches on dinner and my husband was opening the wine, I noticed my son pointing out photographs on the mantle to his new love.

'Here's my aunt in Paris. Oh, and this one is me when I was four and here's my Mom and Dad just after they were married…'

'And is this your Dad?' she asked, pointing to a young man standing in a field of flowers.

'Nope. That's my grandfather. Oh, here's a picture of me playing in net….'

Dinner was lovely, and I felt the strong connection between my son and this very special young woman. After they said their goodbyes and the table was cleared, I went over to the mantle.  

It's funny how you can walk by a photo dozens of times a day and never really look at it. I wanted a closer look at the photo of my father-in-law standing in that field of flowers. The picture was taken long before I met him, but I recognized the flowers - poet's narcissus – and the meadow was covered with them. A true Swiss, my father-in-law, loved hiking and walking in the alps, and while we did a lot of that with him when he was alive, yet somehow, I never made it to those Auvergnese meadows with him. But that photo brought the day to life: a spring day, the warmth of the sun, the heady aromas of all those fragrant flowers swimming in the air, the smell of the grass, the smell of the place. I regretted not having shared that day with my father-in-law. So, I suppose I was searching for some of that experience when I picked up a bottle of Mont de Narcisse from L'Artisan.

 Mont de Narcisse was launched in 2018 as part of L'Artisan's "Les Paysages" collection of fragrances which were inspired by French Landscapes, in this case, Auvergne's highlands as background.

It opens with a bright burst of bergamot that tingles my nose and ushers in a note of lavender. To my nose, it smells like true lavender grown in Haute-Provence - fragrant, fresh and so camphorous it's heady. A note of pepper adds a smoldering warmth and a touch of earthiness, while cardamom adds a spicy sweetness to top. The advertising blurb for Mont de Narcisse says these two spices represent the scent of volcanic soil in the area – I'll have to take their word for it. As it mellows, immortelle appears, displaying its hay and honey facets. This is just flat-out gorgeous! Slowly, the narcissus appears. Let's press pause here for a minute... 

The narcissus used in Mont de Narcisse is Poet's narcissus, the jewel in the crown of plants that grow in the Auvergne region. The scent of narcissus oil is rich and complex with facets of iris, rose, hyacinth, jasmine, tuberose, orange blossom and ylang-ylang. It's heady and opulent, green and floral, and one of the most sought-after flowers used in perfumery. I smell it here, but it has an ethereal quality, as though I was picking up the scent in a spring breeze. Green notes add a sense of place: we are in a meadow. A note of plum adds a fruity dimension to the heart, while Osmanthus adds a creamy sensuality to the narcissus. Narcissus has a leather facet, and Osmanthus amplifies it with its own leather aspect, taking it down to the base where it rests on birch – woody, sweet and green-tinged.  Vanilla is here too, more cozy than sweet, giving Mont de Narcisse the smoothness of suede that creates a certain intimacy.

The drydown is complex, smooth, complex, and so refined, it smells great on both men and women. The true beauty of Mont de Narcisse is how nose Anne Flipo has used a supporting cast of notes to highlight the various aspects of the narcissus.

Every time I pass that photo on the mantel of my father-in-law standing in a sea of narcissus, I smile to myself, thinking that I have shared that experience with him in some small way.  

Mont de Narcisse is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $5.00 for 1 ml.            

Image - - Narsissus poeticus radifloris, by Tigerente, April 3, 2006


Welcome to

"She smelled the way the Taj Mahal looks by moonlight."

                                                                       Raymond Chandler

We are Gwen and Kay, two perfumistas making our scent journey in the cool, clear North.  We are also BFFs - we hang out together a lot, travel together - so we try, buy and share fragrances.

What started out as a shared interest grew into a hobby, and has now become our obsession.

We’ve spent many evenings with a glass of prosecco, a little cool jazz playing in the background, spritzing, sniffing - “How does this smell on you?” and, sadly, sometimes scrubbing.

We’ve tested and tried hundreds of samples over the years, and when we deemed a fragrance ”full bottle worthy” (FBW), one of us has tracked it down and bought it. We now own a lot of really great perfumes, and we continue to buy bottles of what we think is the best of "niche" as new scents are launched.

Also, we include many perfume "classics" that are the foundations of modern perfumery - like Shalimar, Chanel No.5, Eau Sauvage - plus other perfume "gems" that have been discontinued, or were ahead of their time when launched but now fit perfectly in the Niche category. 

With so many exciting discoveries, we can’t help but talk about our passion with other friends. Wherever we go, people ask “What is that perfume you’re wearing? Where can I get that?” So we end up sharing a bit of our “juice” with friends. But the circle has grown, so we've started this website to let others buy and try samples from our collections and experience the fragrant beauty we write about.


We blog

We blog once a week and post a story about a scent from our collections, and add it to our Decant Store. We're not scent critics, so these aren't negative reviews. We love all our fragrances  - that’s why we bought them! But we describe how we think they smell, and share our stories about why we love them - maybe you’ll rediscover an old flame, or fall in love with a new scent.

Or we post conversations about whatever has grabbed our attention recently. Or we write about a specific perfume note,  and offer a Decant Pack, which allows you to explore new territory by trying 3 or 4 fragrances in a special pack at a special discount price.

We sell

We sell 1 ml. decants - .7 ml volume once you allow for the stopper in the vial - filled from our own bottles in our collection because the only way to experience a fragrance is to try it on your own skin. We take the fragrance from its original bottle and decant it into a smaller brand-new, 1 ml sterilized glass vials so that you can try it on your skin to see if you like it.

Through our Decant Store you'll have access to some of the world’s greatest niche scents, hard-to-find fragrances, and classic favourites. 

When you click on the Decant Store tab you’ll find our personal descriptions of each of the fragrances we currently offer from our collection, then you can add them to your Shopping Cart.

Let's be clear (this is a disclaimer!!)

  • We don’t sell full bottles of any fragrance - just .7ml decants. We only sell decants  from the perfumes we've bought.... because we love them.
  • We don't re-sell manufacturers samples.
  • We don’t represent any perfumers or distributors, so we don’t have every scent from a whole line of perfume.
  • We aren’t being paid to promote any product or scent.

If, after sampling a fragrance, you decide that you must have it, i.e. it is FBW (full bottle worthy), and you can’t find it, e-mail us and we will direct you to the best source we know – retail store or online source.

We provide

A place for you to learn about scent, and to share your fragrance experience with others. Click on the section called Resources, under My Perfume Notes (see top right), where  you'll find a Glossary, and fragrance FAQs. You'll also find two great tools we've created - Handmaps and My Sample Perfume Notes - so you can keep track of, and record your own scent experiences.
We hope you enjoy, and visit us often. Leave your preconceptions behind, look around, see what’s on offer, read the Blog, share your experiences and discoveries, and join the circle.

It’s just us.