By Simone Cecchini


“Here’s my secret. It is very simple: you can only see well with the heart. The essential is invisible to the eye.” The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (1943)



In the splendid residence of the Podere ‘La Stanghetta’, surrounded by cypresses and dotted with multiple points of colour of many essences in bloom, in this locus amoenus that is an oasis of peace, we meet Stefania Gornati and Claudio Gori who introduce us to the secrets of plant cultivation and extraction of essential oils – absolute protagonists of an interesting cosmetic line of which we speak. Let’s get to know them.


“As soon as I graduated as a biomedical laboratory technician”, Stefania begins, “I moved to Chianti with my partner at the time. We lived in the province of Milan and he liked the area. So I followed him. I was 25 years old. I worked first in an analysis laboratory, then I decided to take a pottery course and I dedicated myself to the world of terracotta. Subsequently, I read the advertisement in a newspaper of a school that immediately caught my attention, the S.I.M.O. (Italian School of Holistic Medicine). A training that lasted 5 years and that gave me the opportunity to specialize in Iridology. I immediately started to apply holistic knowledge ranging from nutrition to natural complementary remedies, to customers in the area who asked for advice and, by pure chance, I came to know Claudio from Essenziale”.

Claudio himself confirms that he was initially looking for a figure who would take care of distillation and who would be in the laboratory: “Together we started with the great novelty of olfactory experiences. After that, we focused on product development.” “When Stefania arrived,” she says, “There was a lot of confusion in the product data sheets that were out of date. She was able to put them in order by integrating them effectively, thanks to her degree. Combining chemistry and the knowledge of those who have used essential oils over the centuries. He rewrote all the product leaflets! It also helped me with the fundamental part of the warnings, especially paying attention to children and pregnant women. Once the safety data sheets were in place, we started to propose new solutions – including after shower oils. We can define its role in research, development, production and quality control”.

But what were their first formulations: “Initially we designed distillers that were conceived for individual medicinal plants. There is no such plant, from my heritage as an oenologist I designed and built a machine together with companies in the area to express the highest possible quality in the extraction and distillation process. After extracting the raw materials, i.e. essential oils and hydrolates, I realized that there was no way to do business. So we started thinking about what the consumer could need… And the initial answer came from a professional masseur who needed to treat ‘contracted’ people. We recommended him, in order to relax muscles, a mixture obtained with rosemary and laurel essential oil with excellent qualities but with notes that not everyone liked as they were very linked to an aroma that we find in the kitchen, so we modified the formulation by adding lavender and cypress, to achieve a right and pleasant olfactory harmony!”

“So, we introduced eucalyptus and later replaced by cypress. Lavender also helped on an olfactory level as well as being de-contracting and relaxing. Later we ‘abandoned’ the professional masseurs as the olive oil absorbed too quickly, increasing the effort of the masseur. This is how the three types of ‘VelVetoil’ were born, which has become an after-shower oil in the de-contracting, stimulating and relaxing version”, they explain.

In essence, the essential oil stirs emotions: “The scent when you put it on must give joy, it stretches a bridge between us and nature. We like to do good to people. A twenty-five-year-old girl who had an acne problem asked us what we could do to help her. Simply with cypress soap, geranium hydrosol, cypress roll on and sage, we solved a problem. Then we helped two people with high blood pressure with our olive leaf tea, made with winter pruning, able to have this adjuvant effect”, they add.

Where they can, they also work with small consultations for those who want to better understand this world. There are many ideas in the future. Claudio is intuitive: “Stefania often brings me back to reality”.

“We have also implemented the hand balm, great for dry, chapped and tired hands. From the very simple formulation with olive oil, grape seed oil and beeswax with the addition of helichrysum essential oil, excellent for all problems of dry skin and dermatitis. With an olfactory note reminiscent of the sun and summer. We also saw shampoo with grapeseed oil and olive oil enriched with a blend of essential oils; Rosemary, cypress and bay leaf, excellent for scalp care and give shine to the hair.

But how is the visit organized in ‘éssenziale’ with olfactory path?

“The program lasts about two hours. At the beginning we see the plants, we tell them, we allow them to touch each other. Then we move on to the distillery and explain the machines. Finally, for those who want to participate, we face the olfactory tasting, also in English if required. Let’s start with hydrolates that have a more delicate fragrance; They are sprayed into a glass goblet to make them smell. The skin, you must know, changes the perception of perfume while the glass maintains its originality. Then we explain the difference between essential oils and hydrolates: essential oil is much stronger and has more important contraindications while hydrosol is more versatile and delicate and for children there are no contraindications. Having said that, we then move on to essential oils: I never say which oil I put on the mouillettes and generally it is not so obvious to guess from which plant they were distilled”, Claudio tells us.



“The essential oils that are proposed are generally rosemary, Tuscan black cypress, Bolgheri cypress, sage officinalis, true and hybrid lavender, bay leaf; Between one and the other we smell the coffee beans to clean the olfactory taste buds and reset. Essential oils are described in various aspects and we give a card with functions, properties and historical description. The files are also sent digitally, by email, if requested”, Stefania perfects.

‘What is essential is invisible. The essence is invisible’: “Our cypress is able to improve all products, especially in combination with lavender and laurel. The cypress is the guardian of time: it helps us to take it back, slowing down the frenetic pace of the days. Even the Chianti hills help us to do it”, the speech becomes evocative.

“Our distillation system lasts 17 hours instead of the usual 31 – and this makes the difference because if we kept the essences in steam for 31 hours we would lose quality”, explains Claudio.

Some products that we review are the cleansing cream with a delicate aroma of lavender, the solid shampoo with olive oil and grape seed and essential rosemary, bay leaf and cypress, ‘scented and protected shields’ mosquito repellent based on geranium and lavender, the hand balm with olive oil, grape seed oil and helichrysum. ‘VelVetoil’ for massage and after shower: at first glance it seems greasy, then it is completely absorbed because of its olive oil base, as we said. Penetrating the skin also brings essential oils inside.

But what is the ‘Tèsoro del Chianti’? “They are fermented olive leaves that lose bitterness while maintaining antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, lowering blood pressure and cholesterol. Nothing but a ‘Tuscan tea’. On a taste level it resembles green tea but when you put hot water it begins to mottle golden: hence the name of ‘Tèsoro’ (treasure). It is not a classic fermentation; it is the ‘Essential’ method that makes it special”, they tell us.

“We do all this on our farm, La Stanghetta. The crops are all Tuscan”, they conclude.

To return to the olfactory experiences, they are organized by reservation, with a minimum of 5 and a maximum of 12 people. At the end of the experience a cadeau is given, a raw ceramic tile with the imprint of the ‘Essenziale’ logo, in which you can put drops of essential oil chosen from those proposed during the experience.



Info and booking of olfactory experiences: Azienda Agricola di Claudio Gori, Strada del Cantiere 2, Loc. San Donato, Barberino-Tavarnelle (Fi) / Tel. 335 8471480 / /