Few people are familiar with the Mediterranean isle of Pantelleria, located off the south west coast of Sicily. Its virtual isolation renders it a modern-day eden of unique plant species and awe-inspiring vistas that extend out over rocky bays and emerald green waters. The island of Pantelleria and its wealth of fragrances that pervade the cliffs, the paths and the surprising woods all serve as the inspiration behind Profumi di Pantelleria... a fascinating series of eight perfumes that each capture the essence of this far-flung isle.
Executed by nose Maurizio Cerizza under the diligent direction of Calé's Silvio Levi, Profumi di Pantelleria have been fashioned with a great sensitivity to the art, and, I expect, the destination. Below are my brief insights on each of the scents from this appealing portfolio.
"Il Profumo di Pantelleria" is a stirring citrusy green eau de parfum which is every bit as warm and sunny as a flourishing citrus glade where waxy leaves sparkle with morning dew and bushels of climbing jasmine and fragrant lavender are visited by humming, well-intentioned honeybees. Tufts of aromatic herbs like rosemary and and thyme furnish the perfume with a definite sense of the Mediterranean.
The Angel-esque perfume "Jailia" draws upon Pantellarian folklore of a beautiful Princess, and explores the essences of an enchanted garden. Rich and voluptuous notes of peach, tangerine and honeyed red fruits provide a lip-smacking prelude to a darker woody-amber base of vanilla, chocolate and patchouli. Jailia blankets the skin like the firm, enduring embrace of a lover... it is more-ish and compelling.
According to the notes accompanying my sample, "Dammuso" is the olfactory interpretation of the antique Pantellarian domicile; where families converge to recount their day in an ideal "buen retiro" surrounded by gardens. To my nose, however, Damusso is the Italian equivalent of a French l'eau... that is, an uncomplicated scent that vivifies and uplifts; here with shimmering citrus topnotes, and an enduring drydown of blackberry, green tea and pale musks.
"Nica" is an enchanting reference to the cornucopia of flowers, vineyards, and orchards prevalent on the island. Its opening accords of champagne grape and tangerine dance rapturously over a floral posy of yellow freesias and purple violets... the result is distinctly feminine in nature. Nica is vital and spritely and resonates in the nose in the same manner that a woman's laugh resonates in the ears.
The weightless eau de parfum "Aire" pays hommage to the shadow-speckled corners of the island where one can enjoy some welcome respite from the sun... the temperature sinks to a sympathetic degree with gentle gusts of white tea, white pepper and a tiny scattering of soft florals. Aire is as transparent as the open sky where crying gulls soar motionless on crisp oceanic updrafts. An enduring base of white musk and creamy tonka lingers on the skin like a rippling white hair-ribbon whisked away on the breeze. Aire would also serve as a spectacular way to scent your linen!
Whilst the majority of scents from this line can be easily enjoyed by both sexes, "Maestral" is potentially the most masculine of the line. I can easily fathom the inspiration for this perfume being the rugged Pantellarian shoreline, with its rocky cliff faces and wind-swept shoals. Rum, rhubarb and aromatic lavender communicate a sense of comfort and familiarity whilst cardamom, vetiver and cedarwood evoke a feeling of resilient, grounded earthiness. A tiny floret of iris and jasmine perhaps remind us that within every man there is a tenderness to be found. Maestrale is as bold and commanding as the rolling sea; yet as tranquil as the calm that comes after the deluge. A personal favourite.
"Tanit" was the name given to the goddess who was celebrated for centuries in the Mediterranean basin, and also the name given to this tenacious eau de parfum - one that demonstrates an epic strength of character. Tanit is unrelenting in its femininity with aromatic topnotes of basil and zesty ginger coupled with a variety of dramatic florals: peony, magnolia jasmine and osmanthus. A delicious undertone of patchouli and musk liken it in style to the exotic attars of Asia Minor. Just as the notes supplied with my sample suggests, Tanit represents "feminine sensuality combined with determination and presence of mind".
Finally, there is Approdo, a perfume that marries the scent of the sea with that of the land; where salty, mineralic notes lap gently against basil, tangerine, soapy vetiver and summery Mediterranean flowers. Approdo is clean and refined and evokes a strong sense of basking under a warm Mediterranean sun on the stern of a boat with a sheer spray of saltwater settling across your body.
Unfortunately, many of us will never visit the shores of Pantelleria, but Profumi di Pantelleria offers the wearer a unique and rare opportunity to experience her from afar. And for those who have had the pleasure of walking her worn tracks and who have looked out over the Mediterranean from an outcrop high above the sea, what better a souvenir to take home with you?
Profumi di Pantelleria are available from www.essenza-nobile.com and retail for 105 euros for 100ml.