When I hear the word “pharmacy,” I think lab coat, flu shots and behind-the-counter allergy meds. What I don’t think of is an elegant Italian boutique devoted to luxurious skin- and body-care products–and cologne originally created for Catherine de Medici.

I nearly breezed right by Santa Maria Novella, in the former Cartier space, on the way to a recent doctor’s appointment in Chevy Chase. A glance inside its front window, however, drew me right through the doors. What I found was a wealth of luxurious colognes, soaps and lotions for both sexes–not a white lab coat in sight.

The cozy 550-square-foot shop is elegant with hardwood flooring, custom millwork and natural light. An array of exquisitely packaged all-natural body lotions, shave accoutrements and bath salts are neatly displayed on shelves surrounding an 18th-century refectory table. The unique home-scent products would make excellent gifts (as would anything from this store).

The colognes are natural floral scents and are still created in Italy. “All the products are still packaged and made by hand,” says store manager Shaymus Yarbrough. New additions to the collection are products for pets, such as a corn and paws ointment for $25 (beautifully packaged, of course).

The original Santa Maria Novella has its roots with Dominican friars who created the pharmacy in the 13th century to make medications and balms from herbs grown in their monastery’s garden. It was officially opened to the public in 1661. That signature (and unisex) citrusy and bergamot eau de cologne worn by the queen of France, Catherine de Medici, is still available and retails for $110 (3.3 ounces).

Santa Maria Novella is owned by the New York-based LAFCO (Luxury Articles and Fragrance Company), which has Santa Maria Novellas in New York, Los Angeles, Bal Harbour and now, Chevy Chase, which had a soft opening in June. LAFCO has just announced the store’s official grand opening and is celebrating with media tours and parties this week.

5454 Wisconsin Ave., Chevy Chase, 240-743-4949