It’s like when you’re on a roller coaster ride. You know that moment where you go quickly over a peak in the ride, and you feel that weird sensation in your stomach? Then you plunge. At that moment, you’re weightless, free of anything pushing or pulling you, it’s exciting and challenging at the same time.
Yet, you take the plunge.
Later on, when your heart stops beating faster than normal when adrenaline levels settle down, you’ll say: that was a wild ride! And yes, you’ll be willing to repeat it again and again.
This is what Etruscan Water feels like to me, what I felt like in the Etruscan forest leading to Buca delle Fate/The Fairy’s Hole Beach – the place that inspired its creation!
Free-falling. I took the plunge, and how!
Francesca Bianchi released Etruscan Water earlier this year, making it the first fragrance in a line she named Freefall. This line is to represent the influence of her personal research on masterpieces of perfumery, taking a new direction in her work, while still remaining “The Princess of Dark Sexiness”.
You might have already seen that I traveled (together with a bottle of Etruscan Water) to the exact spot Francesca told me inspired this perfume. You can find my travelogue here. This might be helpful to understand the inspiration behind this perfume. I always find that interesting and important in artisan perfumery. Where did it all begin?
It all began sometime long, long ago at Etruscan Coast, of course. Yes, Etruria is definitely under her skin, her Tuscan heart beating strong. It is amazing, this patch of land between Livorno and Piombino: from wild boars to seashells, from golden fields of wheat as far as you can see, including tall “umbrella” pine trees and miles of sandy or rocky beaches.
Tall cypresses, those beautiful guardians of time, overlooking roads leading to typical Tuscan houses and villas, vineyards and farms.
I went on that “rollercoaster” called the path to Buca delle Fati, located when you turn left into the woods, off-road, just before you reach the ancient town of Populonia Alta, stumbling upon Etruscan graves and remains along the way, and walking in footsteps of ancient inhabitants of this area.
Etruscan Water followed me like a melody, an ancient and familiar tune while entering these vibrant Mediterranean woods, following a narrow trail, with no one in sight. It felt like walking through a time portal: branches close behind you and the last traces of present civilization disappear very quickly.
Shade of ancient trees feels like a gentlest hug, providing air of freshness all around you, rising from the ground, evaporating from thick leaves of shrubs around you: opening of Etruscan Water, intense with bright citruses of various sorts is that breath of a Mediterranean forest which energetically pulls you in, so strong that you succumb to it, following up this trail wherever it might lead you. Francesca twirls those citruses abundantly, they form an addictive cocoon around your body.
As your skin, ears, eyes, and nose become accustomed to the forest surrounding you, you start to notice details among branches of trees and along your path. Lizards running across your trail, the sounds different insects make, flowing of other scents intermingled, like basil, or that fine layer of almost bitter immortelle growing in bushes scattered upon the hillside.
If entering these woods was like a time portal that makes you shed your everyday burdens of life, making you feel as if you have returned 2000 years back, walking on paths Etruscans walked on, this is also the moment in perfume’s development where you notice influences from the past: it has got that feeling of grand, now vintage perfumes and colognes, chypres of refined and noticeable sillage.
Perfumes that make you think “God, that man smells good!”. Yes, these were obviously an inspiration, but Francesca wouldn’t be Francesca if she hadn’t continued on – her way.
Between layers of immortelle and iris lies jasmine, and the whole composition continues to carry that air of abundance, becoming utterly seductive as the perfume develops, changing its rhythm.
The air of abundance of nature you feel shifts in a different direction as you walk on, finally being able to see the Sea through branches.
There is a feeling of the sea near present in Etruscan Water: this is in no way a marine, aquatic, openly “salty” fragrance, and yet you feel the presence of the sea in the atmosphere, in your sinuses, and on your skin. Just a touch of dried up sea salt on your skin hair…
Buca delle Fate beach is that magical spot that inspired this perfume. You can reach it after a thirty minutes hike: stones washed with seawater, misty air and the island of Elba looming over the horizon. Legends say that mermaids lured fishermen and sailors here with their irresistible voices, preventing them from returning home.
Etruscan Water carries that Bianchi DNA, an animalic accord with erotic jasmine and iris hand in hand, majestically performing, throbbing deep beneath the surface, with a musky, cistus tainted dry down in the shade of a hundred years old oak tree. It’s a feeling of old, creamy and rich mossiness, reminiscent of dark patches of moss you can see on ancient Etruscan ruins.
Masculine leaning, yet unisex. Which reminds me: I’ve researched and found out that Etruscan women had an important role in society, with a more liberal attitude than other ancient societies at that time. From what is known, married women attended chariot races, were literate, and could inherit family property – something unheard of in Ancient Greece, for example, so ladies – it works for us, too.
Etruscan Water is available in Extrait du parfum concentration, 30 ml/98 EUR, at Francesca Bianchi Perfumes here.
Notes: Bergamot, Green Tangerine, Grapefruit, Petit Grain, Basil, Caraway, Immortelle, Jasmin, Iris Root, Musk, Ambergris, Labdanum, Vetiver, Oak-moss.
The Plum Girl
Photos: The Plum Girl, Francesca Bianchi Perfumes Official
Opinions and the bottle of my own.