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Ca’ Luna – That Moon – green and spicy and woody

How do we find our wonderful fragrances? 

I have an infinite curiosity about the world of perfume so the name of a scent or perfume maker or perfumer I’ve never come across before will trigger a search, and I’ll be gone, lost for hours online. Every mention, every source, every link is followed until I’ve learned as much as possible about this new unknown. Sometimes, sometimes, it reveals a treasure.

Like Acqua di Biella fragrances.  I’d never heard of Acqua di Biella. Obviously, it was an Italian brand, but I want details. How old? Where in Italy? Products?  It turns out to be a very good story:

Acqua di Biella is located in the town of Biella, in the Piedmont area north-west of Milan at the top of Italy, and it’s a company that’s been producing scents for over one-hundred and fifty years. Started by chemist Luigi Cantano who launched his little company in 1871 with a cologne named Acqua di Biella, which is still sold today, Acqua di Biella is now run by fourth generation female descendents of Luigi Cantano, and produces a high-quality line of fragrances, candles, soaps, and body care products for Italy and the EU market.

Consuelo and Chiara Cantono, the grand-daughter and great-granddaughter of Luigi, re-launched the line in 2003 with a new image and packaging, and have since created seven new fragrances which tell the stories of the town of Biella, framed by their family memories.

The original scent from 1871, now named Acqua di Biella N°1, is the historical scent in the line-up. It’s a citrus-floral Mediterranean-style fragrance developed from an eighteenth century convent formula which features aromatic notes of bergamot, lavender, rosemary and mint in the top, followed by floral notes of petitgrain, jasmine and neroli in the heart, laid on a base of white musk. It’s a classic cologne, loved by men and women.

Ca’ Luna from 2007 is the one that intrigues me. Described on their website as as green, spicy, and woody, it was created to evoke memories of the family home. “Faithful and silent custodian of old traditions handed down from generation to generation. On the sunlit terrace the seasons of life's rituals flow sweetly. Magnificently adorned with fragrant flowers, geraniums, old palm trees, massive aloe plants, Ca' Luna lets one see the passage of time though its old walls, covered in lichen and silver-toned ivy. The nights at Ca' Luna, enchanting, silent, adorned by the sound of distant bells and the wind, the moonlight penetrating each room in a slivery shadow, divine.”

The notes are galbanum, fennel, mastic tree, ivy, white pepper, elemi, rum, sandalwood, leather and musk. The very first moments of the opening bring tears to my eyes. The scent of the ivy is unmistakable, silvery green and earthy, aromatic and slightly bitter and resinous, a flood of memories washes through me. Images from my childhood. Colourful fragrant flower beds, tall pines, running on the lawn that sloped to the cliffs above the rocky seashore, turning back to gaze at the house, windows glistening, the stone walls covered with thick green English ivy. Ca’ Luna is my home, too.

The ivy note is sweetened slightly with mild licorice notes of fennel and deepened with more resins –galbanum and mastic, which smell like pine and cedar resins. The heart of resinous elemi, spicy white pepper and dark rum notes add a soft comforting warmth to the green opening, and by the time Ca’ Luna slides into its sandalwoody leathery musky dry-down, I’m completely hooked. MmmMmmm.

I pick up my phone and e-mail my partner in this perfume obsession, who happens to be vacationing with her beloved husband in Tuscany. “Can you find who sells the Acqua di Biella line and buy a bottle of Ca’ Luna for me?”  It seems such a simple request at my end, but turns out to be much more easily said than done, because Acqua di Biella’s Ca’ Luna is sold out everywhere. But my BFF perseveres, because she understands the importance of the perfume hunt. She has it shipped from Milan to her hotel near Florence, and arrives home from her vacation to present me with a 100 ml. bottle, which I’ve been greedily spritzing ever since. Words cannot express my gratitude. 

Ca’ Luna is the most beautiful green fragrance, and has an airy quality that wears lightly on skin, silently wafting for many hours. It has a green soul, but is not overwhelming with herbs or resins. It has a gentle sweetness from the fennel, rum, and sandalwood, as well as a gentle warmth from the woody resins and softly sueded leather notes. And the refined muskiness in the drydown, which works exceedingly well for both men and women, gives Ca’ Luna a sensation of peace, of being rooted in time and tradition. 

Any perfume that can transport me to happy memories is a gift. In this case, with Acqua di Biella and Ca’ Luna, the gift is also a treasure. 

Ca’ Luna is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $6.00 for 1 ml.

Note: Ivy, or Hedera helix, has been around for millennia and is claimed to be the only plant that can grow just about anywhere and does not make walls damp. It has intrigued many cultures. Ancient Romans dedicated the ivy plant to Bacchus and the grape harvest. It was regarded as a symbol of fertility by the Greeks – newlyweds were crowned with wreaths of ivy to symbolize fidelity and devotion. The medieval English connected ivy with virtue and prosperity and believed that it will not grow on the grave of an unhappy soul.

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