Europe Travel

The Birthplace of Eau de Cologne: Discovering the Legacy of Giovanni Maria Farina

Giovanni Maria Farina, the real 'eau de cologne'
Giovanni Maria Farina, the real 'eau de cologne'
Giovanni Maria Farina, the real 'eau de cologne'

Eau de Cologne, a perfume beloved by many, is known worldwide for its fresh and invigorating scent. But did you know that this fragrance has a rich history that spans multiple countries and cultures? The story of Eau de Cologne begins with an Italian perfumer named Giovanni Maria Farina, who was born in Piedmont in 1685.

Farina eventually made his way to Cologne, Germany, where he founded a perfume factory in 1709. In a letter to his brother, Farina described a scent he had created that reminded him of an Italian spring morning, with the fragrance of daffodils and orange flowers just after the rain. This scent was Eau de Cologne, and it quickly became a sensation in Cologne and beyond.

Despite its Italian origins, Eau de Cologne bears a French name. This is because during the 18th century, French was the language of the European courts and the language of high culture. Farina himself marketed his perfume under the name “Eau de Cologne,” which means “water from Cologne” in French.


Today, Eau de Cologne is recognized as a designation of protected origin, which means that only perfumes produced in Cologne can legally be called “Eau de Cologne.” The original recipe for the fragrance, which is a secret known only to a few master perfumers, is still produced today by a handful of companies in the city.

The story of Eau de Cologne is a testament to the international nature of the perfume industry, as well as to the power of scent to evoke memories and emotions. So the next time you spray on some Eau de Cologne, remember the Italian perfumer who created it, the French name it bears, and the German city that made it famous.


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