Acqua di Parma: Arancia La Spugnatura (by Francois Demachy, 2023)

La spugnatura (which can be roughly translated into “sponging”) is one of the oldest extraction techniques of citrus essences; it is a manual method requiring skill and extreme precision, and today only a few craftsmen are still able to do it. 

To sponge citrus, the fruit is divided into two halves. Through a special tool -a middle way between a knife and a spoon, called "cavatore”- the artisan removes the pulp from each of the two halves, leaving the peel intact. This is then bent and pressed over a natural sponge, which will collect all the essence contained in the skin. When it is completely soaked with essence, the sponge will then be squeezed inside an earthenware vessel, and the essential oil thus obtained will be left to decant. 

Each craftsman manages to sponge about a quintal and a half of fruits per day, from which a little less than 500 grams of essence can be obtained. 

If citrus essences were still extracted in this way they would be more valuable than ambergris, and very few brands could afford them. 

Fortunately, the extraction of citrus essences has evolved so much to be performed in ultra-modern plants, using sophisticated and innovative techniques, allowing the perfume industry to use many wonderful citrus essences literally blooming in any fragrance that contains them. 
Unfortunately, though, all these new methodologies have made “spugnatura” a slow, anachronistic procedure in its dexterity. 

Yet, it still makes sense. 

First of all, it allows collecting the essential oil in a very delicate way, respecting all the nuances of its olfactory profile. In addition, sponging requires dedication, a word that perhaps is not so much in fashion but that helps you to understand how much love and craftsmanship are needed to perform a seemingly trivial gesture. Love for what you do, love for what it represents, love for your territory. In addition, the “spugnatura” technique carries on a precious cultural tradition typical of our country, which would otherwise disappear. 

All this to say that when Acqua di Parma launches a fragrance named "Arancia - La Spugnatura", the least you can do is go and smell it.

The citrus chosen for the “spugnatura” process is vanilla orange, which is combined with lemon and mandarin to highlight both its sweetness and its bitterness. A hint of almond and a gentle floral sensation meet a subtle salty note, introduced specifically to remind us that the perfect place for citrus is always near the sea. A woody green accord closes the bouquet adding a delicate poudrè hue. I found it interesting because although it uses an ancient technique, the fragrance feels modern and sparkling. And although I’m generally not interested in bottles, in this case, I have to make an exception and emphasize that when the content becomes rare and precious, even its container must adapt... I find it simply gorgeous.


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