VIADEIMILLE · SICILIA IS A LONG JOURNEY THAT BEGINS IN THE 50S, IN SICILY, IN THE BAROQUE TOWN OF NOTO, WITH AN ARTISANAL DISTILLERY OF ESSENTIAL OILS...
A fascinating family activity, suddenly stopped, and that is renewed 60 years later by the imagination of Stefano Alderuccio as a tribute to the work started by his grandfather and to his homeland.
In the 50s, in the town of Noto, in a poetic Sicily where nature is still intact, Salvatore Scorsonelli begins the production of flower essences and especially of zagara, the very delicate and inebriating blossom of the bitter orange tree. It is in Via dei Mille, in front of his house, in a typical Sicilian garden planted with jasmine, almond and citrus trees, that Salvatore installs the distillery where for more than ten years he would manufacture one of the most precious floral oils used to design perfumes. The essence, of the finest quality, extracted by steam distillation, was shipped to France, destined to the perfumery industry of Grasse.
In 2011, Stefano, one of Salvatore's grandsons, retraces the steps of his grandfather to try to understand why that activity, so rich in memories and anecdotes, often remembered during the large family gatherings, was interrupted, and to understand if it was somehow possible to revive it.
"As children we often used to play in the garden of our grandparents. With my brothers we penetrated into that mysterious place that were the ruins of the distillery. The roof was falling down, the alembics, the glass bottles, the reservoirs were covered with dust, but the walls were still saturated with the intense perfume of the essences, a perfume that I have never forgotten."
And so begins a journey in the world of fragrances, a journey that, from the distillery abandoned of Via dei Mille, will bring Stefano from Noto, from the far end of Sicily, to Grasse, Paris, Florence and then back again to Sicily in search of the best manufacturers, the best Sicilian ingredients, driven by a unique idea: to bring those fragrances back to life.
VIADEIMILLE · SICILIA is first of all the result of a family history, but it is also a story of renaissance, of friendship, of search and discoveries, of regard for deep roots and ideas.
For almost three centuries, Sicily has produced citrus, plants and flowers essences which were destined for the French perfume industry. A major manufacturing activity that, with few exceptions, disappeared with the expanding substitution of natural ingredients by synthetics and with the development of the extraction industry in lower manufacturing costs countries.This extraordinary manufacturing past of the island is still today almost unknown.
In the 50s, Salvatore Scorsonelli, installed in Noto, in Via dei Mille, an artisanal distillery to produce neroli essential oils. By the end of the 1960s, almost all the Sicilian distilleries were forced to stop their activity.
Salvatore Scorsonelli, initiator of VIADEIMILLE
A tireless Sicilian entrepreneur. A real character for a novel. Salvatore "did not even have the fifth grade" – that is how Sicilians say to mean that someone has not even finished the primary school - and yet, as he himself used to say without great pride, "thanks to my work I was the only one, before the war, in Noto, to have 100 thousand liras in the bank, not even the nobles... ". Son of a large family, frail and often in poor health, his parents feared he would die very young. While still a boy, they found him a job in a barber's shop, a light task, in the hope to preserve so his life longer. But Salvatore did not have a barber's destiny, he knew he would not die because of a precarious health, rather he would die if locked up in those four walls. He managed to buy a motorcycle, being even the first to own one in his town, and started traveling to Catania. The trade, the carpentry, the manufacture of furniture, he undertook a multitude of activities, filed a few industrial patents and, in 1955, was honored with the title of Cavaliere del Lavoro (Order of Merit for Labour). In Noto, Salvatore opened the first outdoor cinema. On the evening of the inauguration, after the end of the film, the spectators found themselves with their clothes ruined: the paint of the metal chairs painted during the day had not had enough time to dry. No one knows how he muddled through. During the war, with the help of his wife, for more than a year he concealed two deserters from North Italy in his home to prevent them from being executed. The director of the prison of Noto, his great friend, regularly entrusted him with prisoners to let them work and live outside the prison. Many became his friends. Despite his many activities, he was far too generous with his associates, employees and friends to become rich. In the 50s, with the help of his friend and chemistry professor Signorelli, Salvatore set up, in Via dei Mille, just in front of his house, the flowers distillery that would later inspire the birth of the brand VIADEIMILLE · SICILIA.
Stefano Alderuccio, Salvatore's grandson, founder of VIADEIMILLE perfume brand
One morning, I woke up with with a pressing question: “Why had my grandfather interrupted his flourishing manufacturing of neroli essence in the south of Sicily?” I searched far and wide, I met astonishing people along my way, had some ups and downs and my original question engendered other questions turning on a true passion. In fact, it wasn’t just my grandfather’s story, it was a greater one. I found out the for almost three centuries, until the 60s, Sicily had been a major supplier of the finest raw material for the French perfumery industry, a story neglected and almost unknown. A story of fragrances, a story of hard work, a story of passion. Sometimes unexpected questions lead to unforeseen destinations: VIA DEI MILLE is a natural tribute to Sicily, to its fascinating and forgotten manufacturing past in perfumery, to its traditional fragrances, to its unique natural and cultural world.
Paolo Pironti, Il Giardino degli Aromi
Agronomist, descendant of an old aristocratic Sicilian family, Paolo spent most of his life in East Africa working to essential-oils extraction projects with local rural communities. Back in Sicily, Paolo founded in the lands of his family IL GIARDINO DEGLI AROMI, a farm dedicated to the production of organic essences extracted from local aromatic plants and flowers. The family of Paolo, during the XIX century used to cultivate roses which were destined to the distilleries of Catania for the extraction of the essence. Sharing with VIADEIMILLE the same dream of enhancing and reviving the Sicilian perfumery tradition, Paolo has been the first in the island to produce again Sicilian neroli by steam distillation.
Rovena Raymo, owner of Simone Gatto
A family company, SIMONE GATTO produces citrus essential oils and juices since 1926, when the company was founded by Salvatore Gatto in the province of Messina. In the 60’s it was still a small factory where the extraction of the essential oil was carried out manually with the sponge method and then with the first machines, the legendary Sfumatrice. Today, SIMONE GATTO is recognized as a producer of the most precious citrus essences destined to the perfume industry. The encounter with Rovena and her family has been crucial for VIADEIMILLE, allowing us to ensure the presence of exceptional Sicilian ingredients in our perfume compositions.
Jacques Chabert, master perfumer
After a long career at prestigious brands such as Chanel, Naarden Quest and Firmenich, in 1992 Jacques founded FRAGRANCES ESSENTIELLES, his own fragrance company near Grasse, in France. Jacques uses to work at perfumes composition together with Nathalie Koobus and his two daughters Carla and Elsa. Teaming up with an independent fragrance house has been fundamental for VIADEIMILLE, as not only FRAGRANCES ESSENTIELLES formulates scents, but also selects and purchases raw materials directly from the producers, thus ensuring a total and priceless freedom in ingredients procurement and in perfumes design. Read more
Michael Moisseeff, aromas sculptor
A genius in the science of olfaction, a living olfactory library, a collector of thousands of books about smell and olfactory materials from every corner of the world, PhD in Plant Biotechnology, able to reproduce in his laboratory any existing kind of smell, Michael is undeniably a remarkable man. With Michael we met by chance in a natural history museum in France and since then became very close friends. Looking for traces of the historical commercial exchanges between Sicily and the French perfume industry, it is thanks to Michael that we (miraculously!) could find some extraordinary evidences. That day, Michael came out of the cellar of his house carrying a big dusty box full of old papers. “Look in there”, he said, “I'm sure you'll find something that will be useful to your search”. Indeed, the papers contained articles, pictures and advertisements concerning the manufacturing of essential oils of several Sicilian distilleries, some founded at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Serendipity!
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