January 20, 2022

Cl Youth Theatre

Fashion, The needs of women

The Shocking True Story Of Giulia Tofana & Her Poison Perfume

Giulia Tofana Was Known For Her Cosmetics…

Giulia Tofana was an entrepreneur through and through.

She saw a need and she set out to fill it in a way that no other woman before her had done. In 17th century Italy, divorce was nearly impossible to obtain. So she created a “perfume” which sat cleverly in the medicine cabinet, undetected. A couple drops of her formula – complete with arsenic, lead and belladonna – administered over a few days would kill a man.

Giulia Tofana called her formula Aqua Tofana. It was tasteless and odourless. It could be added to a nightly bowl of soup or a whiskey. And at the end of the day, it would give a woman permission to live her life without her mate. With her inheritance. Because especially back in those days, Aqua Tofana was untraceable and mimicked a gastrointestinal issue.

What Prompted Her To Take Up Her Mission?

image: @kaylavtattoos on instagram

Some may call Giulia Tofana an ingenious (if evil) entrepreneur. Others, however, may call her an old-school version of a social justice warrior. She saw the unhappy women of the world (and in her own social circle) and decided to help them.

In 17th-century Italy, women were auctioned off like objects. They were forced into loveless and often abusive marriages. These women had no social or financial power. Because of this, they had just a few options available to them. They could get married, stay single and be a sex-worker, or become a respected and well-to-do widow. The latter obviously required the first option… and this was Giulia’s target market.

As a result of these circumstances, Tofana synthesized her own untraceable poison that she then packaged discreetly in a makeup/cosmetics bottle. As a result, she was the hero to many women trapped in undesirable circumstance.

Aqua Tofana Was Responsible For The (Untimely) End Of Over 600 Marriages 

aqua tofana
image: @kaylavtattoos on instagram

By the time Giulia Tofana was caught, she claimed she was the reason behind over 600 deaths of men. Feminist revolutionary? Nope. They tortured her for information, and after execution, she was thrown over the church wall. It was a harsh and finite punishment for a trailblazing (if deadly) female entrepreneur.

We should note that if her confession was accurate, that her body count would far exceed that of many modern serial killers.

Her Downfall

aqua tofana
Image: @afredericksart on Instagram

Basically, one of her customers couldn’t follow through with her murder plot, and turned Giulia Tofana in to the authorities. Because of this, they accused her of poisoning Rome’s water supply. She tried to find sanctuary in a church. However, a mob stormed the church thinking she was an enemy of the state. The mob took her to the authorities, where she officially became “busted”.

A Legacy Of Murder

aqua tofana
Image: @afredericksart on Instagram

In a lot of different ways, Giulia Tofana’s business was just a sign of the times. Tofana was reportedly born around 1620 in Palermo, Sicily. The authorities also executed her mother for killing her husband.

Giulia Tofana became a widow and followed in her mother footsteps. Possibly even using her mother’s recipe, she concocted her potion. Then, with her daughter and a group of dependable women, Tofana gained a reputation as a bit of a saviour to troubled women.

As a result, her business took off, and “Aqua Tofana” made its way onto bathroom shelves across the country. Labelled “Manna of St. Nicholas of Bari”, the bottle blended in just perfectly among other cosmetics. The ingredients were popular among women as an effective healing oil for blemishes.

While social media and pop culture has celebrated Tofana, we still want to clarify that murder is not advisable, even under duress.