The chemist’s is located inside the monastery of Sant’Anna, founded in 1584 by Nicolò Doria, the first established by the Discalced Carmelites outside of Spain. The complex includes the church, a typical example of Genoese late baroque, with a fine 16th century portal, cloisters, refectories, gardens and the ancient library containing rare antique books. The highlight, however, is the Antica Farmacia, whose origins date back to the mid-17th century with records documenting the existence of a certain Friar Martino di Sant’Antonio, who was a qualified apothecary. The pharmacy has retained its tradition of Galenic and herbal medicine as well as its evocative original layout in light, airy, hospitable premises with a grey and white marble floor, hip roof and vaulted ceilings, late 18th century walnut display cabinets lining all the walls and the counter in the middle. Friar Ezio, the affable herbalist and repository of ancient wisdom handed down “from Father to Father”, welcomes anyone seeking medical advice and dispenses ago-old remedies obtained, for example from beehives and infusions of lovingly cultivated roses. Ancient knowledge combined with cutting-edge technology: in the state-of-the-art laboratory, modern natural medicine is practised using centuries of experience based on the heritage of the monastic tradition.
Amidst the apothecary manuals, tools, equipment, essential oils and extracts there is an intriguing little wooden angel bearing a notice that says “Nos medicinam paramus, Deus dat nobis salutem” (“We make medicine, God gives us good health”), an aphorism that has always guided the friars of Sant’Anna in their work.