As I write this, those of us living in the UK are going through another one of our all-too-rare bursts of a three-day summer (I expect that, as you read this, we’re back in the bowels of an Arctic winter) which means I’m currently counting the number of times people are complaining that it’s too hot, that they just can’t take these temperatures, that they’re having trouble breathing, that people in warmer countries cope only because they have air conditioning, that the garden is desperate for some rain etc etc. You get the idea. And when I permit myself to pass a comment on these endless tirades - which doesn’t happen often, because I’m not the intervening type - I pull what I hope is an annoyingly superior expression on my face, take a sip of my cafe frappé and tell them to just slow down. Take it easy. Cover yourself up with some thin, loose cotton, instead of exposing every inch of your flesh to all and sundry. Remember to breathe. Drink some cold water. And once again: slow down. Move at a more relaxed pace. Allow the heat to take your body’s rhythm down a gear or two.
It’s this sense of delicious languor that makes Acqua Di Parma’s Chinotto Di Liguria so enjoyable. Almost like an olfactory version of my advice to stressed out, red-faced, panting summer-haters, it raises a Bellini, smiles and just whispers, ‘Tempo, mio amico. Tempo.’ The way it pulls off this trick is, perhaps somewhat paradoxically, by knowing when to cut its sweetness with tart facets. I don’t believe I’ve ever tasted a chinotto fruit myself, but I’m reliably informed that it’s an especially sour form of orange, with marked woody undertones contrasting against the familiar sugary aspects. Sure enough, this fragrance is ostensibly a smiling citrus composition - lots of mandarine - but it is made more memorable and interesting than most other members of the genre because of its fearlessness in embracing sharper elements. There are suggestions of green apple peel, or rasping mango or perhaps even dried herbs, all of which serve to showcase the central material in a more sun-kissed light. There’s an even a retro barbershop hint in there too - lavender? geranium? - conjuring all those de rigueur images of linen suits and angled hats.
It’s too easy - and not always advisable - to ascribe postcard perfection to other times and places simply because a perfume has persuaded you to wander into a romantic daydream. But having said that, I’d be lying by omission if I didn’t say that this juicy little cocktail of a scent transported me to cinematic vistas of post-WWII Italy, populated by wealthy Americans with their loose-fitting clothes, carefree hair and comfortable shoes. All very ‘summer season’, very Med, and, actually, very Talented Mr Ripley…. but without the murderous intent. And guess what: poor Tom Ripley needed to slow down and chill out too. On which note, I toast you with my frappé, dear reader, and rest my case.
[Review based on a sample of eau de toilette provided by Acqua Di Parma in 2018.]