Fragrance Friday: What Are The Best Italian Perfume Brands?
— Updated on 17 November 2022

Fragrance Friday: What Are The Best Italian Perfume Brands?

— Updated on 17 November 2022
Chris Singh
Chris Singh

Welcome to Fragrance Friday, where each week we’ll be keeping you abreast of the newest and most iconic releases in the dynamic world of men’s fragrances. Born out of the desire to showcase one of the most overlooked, yet versatile, elements of any discerning man’s style this weekly column will help you finesse your own signature scent. This week we focus on the best Italian perfume brands.

I’m just winding down a month spent in Italy, so I thought I’d highlight some of the best Italian perfume brands that men should be across. I mean, why not? Perfumery is such an unmistakably respected art in Italy and is still held in such high regard, tied to culture and proudly showcased in many of the world’s great cities like Florence and Milan, as well as highly sought destinations such as Lake Como and the Amalfi Coast.

You need but check in to one of Italy’s many great high-end hotels to get an idea of just how synonymous with luxury perfume is.

My first stop was Rome a couple of weeks ago, staying at the Sofitel there. As soon as you walk into the hotel there’s a massive glass display with Acqua di Parma products lined neatly, signifying an essential part of that La Dolce Vita lifestyle these types of hotels are anchored upon. Right by that glass display as an artfully decorated spread of Perrier-Jouët and its several expressions. While the historic Epernay Champagne label may help give the Sofitel’s lobby some healthy ties to premium lifestyle, it’s Acqua di Parma that is often the first thing guests see when they walk off Via Lombardia and into the quaint luxury hotel.

I write that to write this. Perfume is such a big deal in Europe that it’s often hard to grasp as an Australian who only just recently took up a deep interest in fragrances – both niche and designer. Between seeing Acqua di Parma in pretty much every hotel I’ve been in (the Italian brand even made an exclusive for the epic Belmond Villa San Michele in Florence) and visiting the original Santa Maria Novella, I get the idea that niche perfumery is in much higher demand in continental Europe than it is elsewhere in the world. Especially in Australia.

Fragrance in Italy dates back to early Greco-Roman civilisations and was established during the spice trade in the 13th century. Many write that Venice was ground zero for Italy’s love of perfumery, given Venetians were avid traders and would often come across all these spices and other ingredients that modern perfumery is now known for.

RELATED: Fragrance Friday: 3 Best Smelling Oud Perfumes For Men

Italian perfumes are essentially as much part of the cultural fabric as anything else, given the industry satisfies the country’s love of technique and artisanship. Some of the boutiques you’d find throughout Italy also double as time capsules, like the mind-blowing Santa Maria Novella flagship in Florence. The label, which is even more inescapable than Acqua di Parma at times, was established in 1221 when the S.M Novella boutique, the world’s oldest pharmacy, was known for crafting fragrances and home remedies

I flew to Rome via Abu Dhabi from Sydney so I spent a day relaxing in the UAE between flights. That’s what triggered me to write a feature on the best oud perfumes for men. It was also interesting to me to notice what kind of perfume is trending in the city and what ingredients are the most used. For Abu Dhabi, at least, that ingredient is oud. You can’t leave Abu Dhabi without associating the destination with the slightly smokey, sweet wood known as oud.

And that’s what was so interesting to me. What city matches what perfume? For Italy, the answer has almost always been citrus, whether that’s sparkling grapefruit or lemon. The Italians don’t care too much for wood, instead including ingredients that skew fresh and airy, Mediterranean in concept to connect well with the coastline and images of that laid-back lifestyle.

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Santa Maria Novella

Aside from Acqua di Parma, Santa Maria Novella is the name I hear most about. Locals treat themselves to a bottle on occasion, but tourists seem to be magnetised to the label’s original boutique as if it was some sort of museum. Walking through the impeccably designed entrance of the original store gives off the same feeling of walking into a beloved art institution. If you ever find yourself in Florence, this comes highly recommended.

As for the perfumes? Invariably elegant and immaculately clean, with most having a soap-ish quality to them that helps blokes smell as if they’ve just stepped out of the shower.

Acqua di Parma

Here’s another obvious one. Acqua di Parma is almost always a big hit in the BH office. That’s no surprise. I mean not with such reliability and quality, with the label consistently expressing the essence of that laidback, sophisticated Italian summer.

Acqua di Parma is one of those symbols of luxury just about every man travelling around Europe needs to wear at least a dozen times. Classic perfumes like Colonia and Colonia C.L.U.B. are top-sellers. But we also really admire the label’s range, with woody perfumes, clean perfumes and gourmand perfumes all lined up nicely in the same collection.

Dr Vranjes

I only noticed Dr Vranjes while I was in Lake Como. The legendary Mandarin Oriental property that’s right on the lake uses massive Dr Vranjes diffusers throughout the public spaces to help bring the property an opulent, multisensory experience. The hotel smells incredible as soon as you walk in, which is why this historic Florentine brand also deserves a heady nod along with the aforementioned Santa Maria Novella as perfect representations of Florence and the city’s long history with artisanship.


While Xerjoff may lack the important historical ties that Santa Maria Novella and Acqua di Parma, this luxury brand is not easy to ignore. Tradition plays a big part in what the label produces, painstakingly sourcing the finest ingredients – which is probably why the price tag is always so high. I’m still in love with the Tony Iommi Monkey Special that I received a few weeks ago, but Xerjoff has such a strong and impressive range that is full of fragrances people will either really love or really hate. Divisive is a good thing when it comes to niche perfumery, and Xerjoff does it very well.


I had to throw a designer fragrance in this list of the top Italian perfumes. Bulgari seems to be the better one to go with, owing greatly to the iconic label’s sense of adventure and value. Something like the Man Terrae Essence if a great example – it’s woody but not overly so, hitting on those stereotypically masculine notes but restraining itself just enough to complement a European summer.

Costume National

Some of my favourite perfumes to date have come from this label, where Costume National is nothing if not incredibly reliable for freshies with a difference. Take the perfect Costume National Homme Parfum for example, where the grapefruit on the top is dialed up so perfectly that the zing spills over all the other notes with a sweet, lively profile. Projection and longevity are also solid without being obnoxious – a perfect example of a modern niche fragrance well worth the investment.

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Chris Singh
Chris is a freelance Travel, Food, and Technology writer. He has had work published by The AU Review, Junkee Media and Australian Traveller Media and holds tertiary qualifications in Psychology and Sociology.


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