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ANTICA FARMACIA PESCI SINCE 1552 – THE HISTORY

The Antica Farmacia Pesci –one of the most historic Roman pharmacies – is located, with various small movements, in the Piazza della Fontana di Trevi. Founded in 1552, at the behest of the pope with the aim of distributing medicines to the poor and needy in the area, today it still retains the original furnishings and furnishings.

The ‘apothecary and wax shop’, managed over the centuries by the Corsi and Mansueti families, was in fact always under the protection of the popes and has been a reference point for its therapeutic products. In his laboratory the TERIACA, a famous electuary, was prepared, preserved in a stone container; this ancient medicine, was invented by Andromaco, Nero’s doctor, it was used for about 20 centuries to treat most diseases and its formulation underwent changes over time, up to about 100 components. Extremely renowned was the INNOCENZIANO BALM, composed at the request of Innocent XI, a macerate of balms and other components, widely used in the 17th century, to heal wounds and soothe bruises and pains, as stated in a document of the time still exhibited today in the pharmacy.

The historic furnishings of the pharmacy showcase, on the shelves of the time, the different boxes in sandalwood, which in addition to being malleable to create these rounded boxes, had anti-parasitic properties, therefore suitable for storing dried or fresh drugs. The apothecary, in addition to being the place where medicines were stored and prepared, was also the place where they were sold; consequently, the boxes with the inscriptions relating to the contents were a guarantee of professionalism and the therapeutic offer that this pharmacy represented for Rome over the centuries.

In the 18th century it was mentioned as one of the apothecaries with an intense activity in the pharmaceutical field.

CURIOSITY

Among the curious inscriptions of the containers, just to mention a few, you can read:

“Dry vipers”, main component of the Teriaca;

“Dragon’s blood”, a bright red gummy and resinous juice with the aromatic smell of vanilla with astringent properties, particularly recommended for bleeding;

“Holy wood”, considered rich in positive properties for the lymphatic system, but also used against rheumatism and syphilis.

Next to the wooden containers, in the apothecary, you can see numerous ceramic containers. The jars were jugs with a spout, used to contain syrups, ointments and other oily substances; these containers bear writings indicating the substance contained. Older, as a concept and use, was the albarello, which instead contained jams and pasty medicaments. Most of the vases on display are copies of the originals, made by L’Odissea di Faenza.

Particular mention should be made of the mortar created in cast bronze, for the foundation of the apothecary in 1552, as can be seen from the inscription; other mortars are kept in the pharmacy, the material of which they are made was chosen on the basis of the need to perform various operations. Those in iron and bronze were used to treat drugs, while marble and ceramic were used to pulverize salts and mineral compounds.

The counter, still used today, is made of walnut with a single dovetail joint, a peculiarity that arouses great interest and wonder on the part of all connoisseurs and artisans of wood. At the ends of the counter there are two large porphyry vases, unobtainable today, used since ancient times, to build the tombs of pharaohs in Egypt or of great personalities (just think of Napoleon’s tomb in Paris). Of the two vases, the smaller one, should have contained the ashes of Giuseppe Garibaldi and for this he was taken from the pharmacy, but then it was decided to bury the Hero of the Two Worlds in Caprera, and the vase returned here.

Although today’s is not the original arrangement of the furnishings, it is still possible to admire the imposing walnut wardrobe, on the sides of which you can see two doors, with the words “venienti occurrite morbo” (prevent the disease that arrives) and “tollitur arte malum “(The art of removing evil); these doors led to the old laboratory. Above the piece of furniture is a painting attributed to Andrea Sacchi depicting the Holy Family.

Today, many of these peculiarities are ‘hidden’ by modern exhibitors, so we invite you to take a dip in the past in person.

Today the pharmacy has been family-run for four generations and tries to maintain and preserve all this, without however renouncing the technologies necessary to ensure a service in step with the times.

Therefore, alongside the dried vipers, myrrh, dragon’s blood, the current galenic laboratory prepares modern preparations, finding a compromise between the tradition of ancient apothecaries with the current rules of good preparation.

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