“It all began on the terrace of Le Sirenuse one day in the spring of 2002”, says Marina Sersale. “We were all there – my husband Sebastián Alvarez Murena, my cousin Antonio Sersale, his wife Carla, and my sister Giulia – the ‘new Sirenuse generation’, if you like. And we were talking about what we could do to celebrate the hotel’s 50th anniversary. We wanted it to be something really special, and somehow the idea of a signature fragrance came up. “That’s it”, we all agreed. “That’s special!”
So began two intense but fascinating years of learning, research and discoveries for Marina and Sebastián, who were given the task of developing what would become Eau d’Italie. Both knew that Le Sirenuse’s signature fragrance needed to capture the essence of the place – not an easy task, as it meant distilling colours, tastes, sounds and moods into a single scent.
“We began working on my childhood memories of the place ” continues Marina. These included recollections of spending summers at the hotel, marvelling at the glamorous and beautiful women who danced on the terrace with suave men in tailored dinner jackets. But the fragrance also needed to reference a range of aromas which for Marina are conjured up by Le Sirenuse and Positano: “the smell of sun-warmed terracotta, wild herbs and lemon flowers, the salty sea breeze, incense from the churches after the evening Mass”.
Working with French perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour, Marina and Sebastián translated these sensations into Eau d’Italie, which launched in 2004. All body products and amenitites in Le Sirenuse’s guest bathrooms are now scented with this intriguing fragrance, with its notes of bergamot and blackcurrant, musk and incense.
Guests are often amazed that a single, family-run hotel should have taken the time and trouble to create its own signature fragrance and exclusive body line. But the adventure did not stop there. Eau d’Italie has today become a line of fragrances which form a sensory ‘Italian Grand Tour’ in ten stages.
Most conjure up a specific esprit du lieu, like Sienne l’Hiver, with its Tuscan notes Florentine iris, geranium leaves and echoes of white truffle, or Baume du Doge, which carries all the heady spices of Venice’s glory days as a bridge to the Orient and an urban theatre of delicious decadence. Acqua Decima, the tenth and most recent arrival, was designed to celebrate the spirit of Italy itself, with citrus head notes, a cool Neroli heart and sparkling mint overlay.
Complementing the fragrances are a range of body products, including an eminently giftable scented soap in a three-bar presentation box, and a line of scent diffusers in the newly-launched Home & Bath Collection, with seven purpose-designed fragrances based on a new formulation that is alcohol free and guarantees diffusion of the scent right down to the last drop.
It all started on a warm spring’s night in Positano. But that spring night hasn’t gone away. Take the cap off a bottle of Eau d’Italie fragrance, and it’s right there, in all its subtle seductiveness.