Established by the Dominican Fathers shortly after 1221, Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella is one of the oldes pharmacies in the world. Starting out with cultivating and growing herbs which they needed to prepare medications, balms and creams for the monastery's little infirmary. In 1612 when their products gained renowny even in foreign countries, it was decided that the pharmacy should be opened to the public. In the 18th century, thanks to the efficacy of the many formulas used, the fame of the pharmacy spread as far as Russia, the Indies and distant China. Subsequent to the Italian government's confiscation of church property, in 1866 the activity passed into the hands of the state, which rented it out to Cesare Augusto Sefani, nephew of the last Dominican director of the Officina. Stefani aquired the name and the property, and since then four generations of the same family have owned and managed the Officina Farmaceutica. Presently under the direction of Eugenio Alphandery, the tradition is being carried on with unaltered success. Production is limited and is meticulously controlled. Only the highest quality natural ingrediens are used, and the procedures continue the founding father's tradition. Every product of the Officina has a story to tell.