Blog post by Gwen

Nostalgia – warm and elegant and masculine


According to Google data, I live in a city with 9,378 restaurants, but we regularly go to one called Ascari Enoteca for a meal of handmade pasta chased down by a glass of crisp white wine.

The restaurant is named for Alberto "Ciccio" Ascari, the famed Italian racing driver who drove for Ferrari and won back-to-back Formula One world titles in 1952 and 1953. As of 2024, he remains Ferrari's sole Italian champion.

Ascari got his start in motor racing after driving the prestigious Mille Miglia, the open-road endurance race established in Italy in 1927 and featured a course of a thousand Roman miles. Ascari drove that course twenty-four times from 1927 to 1957. The more I read about the Mille Miglia, the more I realized its cultural impact.

For example, in 2002, the Italian niche fragrance line Santa Maria Novella -which traces its history back to 1221 and built its house on fragrances inspired by herbs, plants, and historical figures—launched Nostalgia, an eau de cologne inspired by odours associated with Mille Miglia race cars.

According to the Santa Maria Novella website, Nostalgia is the scent of a vintage racing car, designed to evoke the ‘smells of tires worn out by acceleration and sudden breaking blend with hints of gasoline and leather, both of which are characteristic of antique cars.’ Such a fragrance seems a little off-brand at first, but this cult favourite reminds us that inspiration for great fragrances can be found anywhere.

Nostalgia opens with a burst of citrusy bergamot that ushers in a note of gasoline. This is not gas pump stuff; this gasoline has been perfumed with herbal, fresh-smelling bergamot and sweetened by the vanilla undertones of styrax. The styrax is warm and balsamy and links to a note of singed rubber that hums with smokey warmth. It sparks the leathery smokey and woody aspects of the styrax that foreshadow what‘s to come later. At the heart, there’s a note of fragrant, resinous, woody cedar. At this stage, I get a whiff of tobacco that, combined with the cedar, adds richness and depth. Cedar’s camphorous facet links to a note of earthy patchouli; its herbal/green aspects echo the bergamot, giving Nostalgia a fresh, outdoorsy feel. At the base, a note of vintage leather comes to the fore, recalling the styrax. It’s supple, worn and sensuous. It’s countered with birch tar. It’s the smoky, tarry smell of a campfire, and it insinuates itself up through the fragrance, as its minty facet gives hints of green forests. Vanilla sweetens the mix that rests on a base of warm, sensuous amber.

Nostalgia dries down to a warm, smoky, elegant, masculine scent. To me, it's the smell of driving a vintage Ferrari along the winding roads of the Amalfi Coast, with its dramatic coastline and lush greenery. It smells of luxury.

It’s hard to explain how smooth and sexy it is when it has notes like gasoline, tar and rubber but it all comes down to proportion, balance and precision.

Check out Nostalgia in our Shop.