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  • Betti Pharmacy, Bagni di Lucca.zoom in altra finestra
  • Furnishings in Empire style (1805) of the Betti Pharmacy, Bagni di Lucca.zoom in altra finestra

Antica Farmacia Betti [Antique Betti Pharmacy]

The pharmacy was founded in 1709 by the "speziale" Paolino Ghiareschi, the first descendent of a family from Borgo a Mozzano that, for around three centuries, has handed down the profession of pharmacist, as far as the present-day owner Massimo Betti.

Bagni di Lucca was already at the time renowned for the presence of the Baths, and the Betti pharmacy was called the "Royal Pharmacy of the Bagni di Lucca Hospital". Around 1870, authorised by Queen Victoria, it displayed the coat of arms of the British royal house and used the name "Pharmacy of the British Embassy", later changed to "English Pharmacy".

It still has its antique furnishings and equipment. Shelves in ivory-coloured wood with columns, capitals and decorations in gold run along the walls of the two sales areas. In the central set of shelves, of concave shape, are displayed 53 lids white-and-gold ceramic jars, produced by the Ginori manufactory in the very first years of the 19th century. The collection also contains a chestnut-wood herb presser from the end of the 18th century. Highly interesting is the series of diplomas of the Betti pharmacists and the numerous old pharmaceutical texts conserved and utilised for Galenic purposes, such as the Teatro farmaceutico by Dr. Giuseppe Donzelli from 1704, the Tavola dei secreti (ex libris Paolino Guareschi) from the first half of the 18th century, and the Annotazioni chimico-mediche-farmaceutiche ad uso della Reale Farmacia dell'Ospedale di Bagni di Lucca A part of the collection is displayed in the pharmacy, while the rest is kept at the owner's home.

A memorial stone on the facade recalls that the twins Adolfo and Mario Betti were born in the apartment above the pharmacy; the former was a musicologist and violinist of international standing; the latter an outstanding chemist and pharmacist, who was also assistant to Ugo Schiff, and was Rector of the University of Siena starting in 1915.

The pharmacy has undergone various restoration initiatives, which have not however obliterated its fascinating historical memories.


Texts by Graziano Magrini

English translation by Catherine Frost

Last update 10/gen/2008