Italy: How to visit Rome’s oldest pharmacy

Rome: Considered Rome’s oldest pharmacy, the Spezieria di S. Maria della Scala is located on the first floor of the Convent of the Discalced Carmelites in the Trastevere neighbourhood.

Dating to the second half of the 16th century, the ancient Spezieria was originally established for the needs of the friars themselves, who grew medicinal plants in their monastery garden.

At the end of the 17th century it was opened to all and gained such a reputation that its customers included princes, cardinals and even papal doctors, earning it the nickname “pharmacy of the popes.”

The farmacia antica ceased serving its home-grown medicines in the 1950s, when the friars stopped growing their healing herbs and spices, and it closed its doors completely in 1978.

The pharmacy is still intact, however, and still contains its ancient medicines in glass jars.