Acqua di Parma : Rosa Nobile


Created by : François Demachy

Date : 2014

Genre : Confused rose

Concentration : eau de parfum

I defy anyone to put this rose-centric perfume on a scent strip and then NOT put it on their skin!  I thought the opening was gorgeous when I tried it out and immediately sprayed it on my wrist hoping that it would make a boring Sunday exciting as the perfume evolved over time.  Well… it evolved but not in the direction I like.

I find that rose scents are great when they are simple like Jo Malone’s Red Roses Cologne or all wrapped up in a complex chypre structure as in Estée Lauder’s Knowing or one of my all-time favourites, Coriandre by Jean Couturier.  Unfortunately, Rose Nobile is a wishy-washy rose scent… not simple enough for the purist in me nor complex enough for the connoisseur.  The opening was gorgeous… a kind of citrus rose with a clarity that pulled me in… but then it veered off into a non-descript floral with lots of powder clouding over the already blurred bouquet of notes.  On my skin, the drydown ended back in the rose territory but with a distinct sour note, which I didn’t like.

Acqua di Parma has some very beautiful perfumes, Magnolia Nobile comes to mind, but this one left me looking forward to washing it off.  The following day I tried it again but no, it didn’t appeal the second time around either.  I definitely recommend you try this one before buying.  Although the first few notes are spectacular, you might not like the bitter heart.

P.S.  This idea came to me a few hours after I posted this entry.  If you are looking for a powdery, rose-centric perfume with iris and without the sour note drydown, try the original Paris by Yves Saint-Laurent.  My bottle is about 10 years old and it is still wonderful.  It’s a bit big but that’s a question of dosage.  One spritz is enough.

Emma, the book and the computer

Emma’s full name is Emma de Jesús Sánchez Perdomo and her book is called Fetiches.  From leafing through it and with my very limited knowledge of Spanish, it seems more a collection of short stories than a novel.  Click here for the background post.


Buying Emma the computer wasn’t a difficult choice.  Anyone else would do the same thing.  When she read my email saying that I would get her a laptop sometime in 2013, she wrote back saying that her coworkers ran to her desk because she had jumped out of her seat and screamed.  They must have thought she had received bad news.

On December 26th, 2012 I went to Bureau en Gros (Staples in Québec) and found a HP laptop with Windows 7 which had been used as a demonstrator.  The sales associate was quick to tell me that Windows had been reinstalled with all the current updates… and that the computer was guaranteed for 1 full year.

Me :  Well… that won’t be of much use.  It’s a gift for someone who doesn’t live in Canada.  By the way, I also need a 56K modem… the kind that plugs into a telephone jack.

SA : Are you kidding me?  Where is this computer going?

Me : Havana

SA : Let me check but I doubt it!

He came back 5 minutes later.

SA : It’s the LAST one.  Take it or…


Of course, buying the computer was the easy part.  Getting it to Havana would prove to be more difficult… but a friend came through and Jacques agreed to take it with him on his Christmas trip.

With the deal finalized, I, wickedly, wrote to Emma to tell her that, although I had the laptop, I couldn’t find someone to take it to her on such short notice.

A few days later, Jacques met up with Amado.  On returning home from the New Year’s Eve’s celebrations (just past midnight, in fact), Amado listened in at Emma’s door.  He heard people talking.  He knocked and when Emma opened the door, the laptop was delivered.  I only wish I was there… you see, a computer changes a Cuban family’s life.

And from then on, things just proceeded with emails being sent over an 8-year period.  Now, I don’t want people to think that I sent A LOT of money.  I sent what I could and with the currency exchange, you can actually buy a brand new, automatic washer for less than $120 Cdn.  It certainly beats washing clothes in the bathtub or sink which many Cubans do.

I can’t say I know very much about Emma.  She certainly loved perfume, like all Cubans.  I always sent her and her granddaughter perfumes in beautiful, romantic bottles… Vera Wang’s Princess in the shape of a heart, for instance.  The perfume I brought on this last trip was  Mugler Angel Eau Croisière in the shape of a rose- and amber-hued star.


I think Emma was religious.  She was always telling me that God was with me during the last years with my parents.  On my last trip, I visited the Havana Cathedral although I had seen it before.  No doubt I will visit it again.


Havana and Emma


I travelled to Havana this past March, the first real vacation since 2011.  My intention was to get away and perhaps visit two friends, Amado and Emma.  I finally did have supper with Amado but I did not see Emma on this trip.  I stupidly declined to see her and her granddaughter, Heidi, because my Spanish is so pitiful.

I first met Emma during my 2011 trip.  Amado had invited me to his family’s apartment in La Lisa for dinner and there was a knock at the door.  Emma, his neighbour, had dropped in to give me a book that she had written knowing that I was a librarian.  We exchanged very few words when I visited her flat and when I offered her 20 Cucs (about $24 Cdn), she refused it outright.  We exchanged email addresses and she promised to write to me from the computer she used at the hospital where she worked.

We started an exchange of emails… 2-3 per month (thank God for Google translate).  When Emma retired in 2012 and informed me that she could no longer write novels nor send me emails, I bought a computer here in Montreal and arranged to have it delivered to her for her birthday.  Laptops seem to grow like mushrooms in our wealthy world.  A computer was simply unattainable for a Cuban and this way, I knew we could continue to exchange emails.


Emma (third from left) with co-workers and the new computer.

I was more than happy to send her money on occasion.  And I was always delighted to hear what she had bought with the money… food for the family, an automatic washing machine, a camera to take photos of her great granddaughter, a floor fan for the hot Havana summers.  What I got in return was priceless… a confidante, whose advice to me was always measured and thoughtful.  She was with me throughout my parents’ demise.

My trip to Havana this year was uneventful.  I saw many of the museums, churches and tourist sites that I had seen before. I returned to Montreal on March 30th thinking I might never return.

Three weeks later, I received an email from Heidi.  Emma had suffered a stroke and had passed away 24 hours later.  Even now, several days later, the emptiness is palpable.



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