Since its beginnings in 1916, Acqua Di Parma has worked to preserve the traditional craft techniques of the Italian micro-territories. This has manifested itself in products made only from locally sourced ingredients, iconic yellow boxes that are hand-embossed in Parma, razors and brushes made in some of the oldest workshops in Florence, and glass bottles made by Murano glassblowers. 

Acqua di Parma Bergamotto di Calabria La Spugnatura cologne in blue bottle on top of a rock and next to green bergamot oranges

While tradition has always been integral to Acqua di Parma, the brand’s latest fragrance goes further than any of its previous endeavours. 

Acqua di Parma Bergamotto di Calabria La Spugnatura cologne being made by Calabrian artisan who is shelling oranges

The bergamot fragrance is extracted from the citrus fruits through a process known as ‘sponging’, which is practised by a small group of Calabrian artisans. It requires the use of a small, spoon-like utensil called a ‘cavatore’, which separates the bergamot orange skin from the pulp. The bergamot rinds are then manually rubbed on sea sponges, which absorb the fragrant essence.

The sponges are hand-squeezed into a container, with the resulting liquid forming the central ingredient of the Bergamotto di Calabria scent. 

Calabrian artisan who is sponging bergemont oranges to make Acqua di Parma Bergamotto di Calabria La Spugnatura cologne

Sponging demands a great deal of skill and is remarkably time-consuming, with one day of hard work by two artisans producing only about 4kg of essential oil. Yet, the results are incomparable. One spritz of Bergamotto di Calabria is its own small sensory explosion of bright citrus. You practically see yellow when you smell it. 

The Acqua di Parma Bergamotto di Calabria La Spugnatura cologne bottle being made by Italian artisan

The same attention to craftsmanship is extended to the Bergamotto di Calabria bottle production. The porcelain mix is poured into a ceramic mould, left to sit for 30-40 minutes, and then hand-smoothed before it is baked for eight hours. The solid bottle is hand-painted with images of bergamot oranges and vines, and then a label is applied, made from waste powder from marble quarries. 

The Acqua di Parma Bergamotto di Calabria La Spugnatura cologne bottle being made in mould next to finished bottle

The final product is a one-of-a-kind cologne, a sort of dressing-table monument to the history of Italian craftsmanship that is worth keeping long after the last spritz. §