Acqua di Sale by Profumum Roma (1996) {Perfume Review & Musings}


Acqua di Sale (Salt Water) by upscale Italian niche perfume house Profumum Roma is like the promise offered by those glass bottles with thick bottoms that contain a fishermen's boat inside their bellies. Except that through the magic of perfume we are able not just to daydream of sea voyages looking at a trinket, but also to enter inside their universe and suddenly find ourselves in a Mediterranean cove on a beach between the dark blue sea and a rocky cliff shaded by intricate pine trees. There we can imagine ourselves resting, lulled by the rote of the sea while inhaling the brackish air...


The main inspiration for the perfume seems to have been to combine marine notes with coniferous ones. This creates the mental backdrop for a classical Mediterranean landscape by the sea and translates into a sophisticated, very elegant, and unusual marine scent with an assertive personality. It is beautiful, if not pretty, as beauty seems to stand closer to ugliness than prettiness and as some of the nuances of the scent could feel to offer too much personality for just "pretty".

The perfume starts with a pale yellow alcoholic, then briny sea-spray impressions with aromatic notes of - to my nose - vetiver, eucalyptus, juniper berries, thyme and actually, myrtle.

The scent is herbal at first, suggesting the flavor of a Chartreuse liqueur then segues into an intense coniferous accord with resinous, sappy, sticky nuances of pine resin. Little waves seem to come lick the foot of a pine tree, or alternatively one starts visualizing pinecones floating on the foam of the sea - or yet again, one is promenading in a coniferous forest near a fishermen's village.

There are undertones of salty fish sauce or "Nuoc Mam" made of fermented fish and commonly used in Southeast Asian cuisine. This undertone is a bit daring, but adds charm to the fragrance making it smell more real.

After that, the scent softens down evoking a subtle beach-y aroma that of human skin touched by the elements: wind, sand, and salt water on a sunny day. At the same time, it feels as if a person's hands would have been playing with pine cones and been stained by pine resin. Underneath it all, there is an undercurrent of sweet herbaceous notes - maybe angelica - with nuances of citronella and bitter almonds.

The dry-down is woody, evoking wood furniture freshly polished with encaustic, maybe an old captain's wood chest painted and engraved with maritime scenes salvaged and treasured in a neat little house by the sea, or alternatively the dark wood-panelled walls of a rich mansion.

The longer dry-down is cedar-y, a bit vanillic, and musky. I think that the musk could be more interesting, as it smells a bit too much to my nose of a fairly common type of white musk, yet I understand also that it allows to create a clean skin smell effect as if one had freshly emerged from the sea.

The next day, the musky scent lingers on, revealing floral overtones.

Acqua di Sale feels a little bit like it is the Piguet Bandit of the marine scents, an unapologetic fragrance unveiling daring strokes, only slightly more masculine in tone (it is a unisex fragrance in fact.)

Notes are: aroma of salt on the skin, myrtle, cedarwood, marine algae

Acqua di Sale is available in Profumum boutiques and in the US, at Luckyscent, $190 for 100 ml.

Update: Since we wrote the review, the house had an artistic collaboration with Jazid to compose a music, Island of Gods from the CD Blue Essence, inspired by the fragrance.

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