Italy is so steeped in art and culture, it comes as no surprise that many post offices, pharmacies and restaurants wind up in historic buildings. I was thrilled, in fact, to stumble upon a secret perfume shop in Rome.
HB Roma is a concept store with covetable fragrances and stunning frescoes located along the elegant Via dei Due Macelli street in the heart of the city. Stepping inside the store is a real treat for the senses: shiny perfumes, colognes and potions line the walls while art deco details, contemporary furniture and vibrant paintings provide an alluring backdrop to the shopping experience. The boutique perfumery is part of HB Profumerie, a small chain of shops born in Rome in 1962, and undoubtedly has the most privileged location: HB Roma lies inside the 19th century Palazzo Chauvet, the ex-headquarters of Il Popolo Romano, a political newspaper in distribution between 1873 – 1922. The space boasts frescoes that are rich with symbolism related to Italian Unification and include allusions to Pompeii’s grotesques, mythological figures such as Rome’s She-wolf, and others.
HB Roma is worth a visit not only to admire its art and peruse it’s line of fabulous French and Italian perfumes – which cover high-end brands including Acqua di Parma, Clive Christian, Comme des Garcons and Diptyque – but to admire how seamlessly the shop fuses past and present within a multifunctional space. The concept store is punctuated by eclectic, contemporary furniture and sculptural works of art that help the venue double as a sort of art gallery and lounge for shoppers.
This secret perfume shop in Rome also boasts an intimate cocktail bar in the back with a speakeasy feel: owner Luca Petricca wanted to enhance the experience of shopping for perfumes by drawing attention to the interrelationship between smell and taste. The bar serves up craft cocktails, natural wines and infused liquors before closure at 7:30 each evening and is a truly unique place to stop for an aperitivo before dinner in the city center.