Smell Festival

‘A path with wide open nostrils, where smells and fragrances
give life to endless narrations.’

Smell Festival is the first festival dedicated to olfactory culture and the art of fragrances. Created by Francesca Faruolo and promoted by the association Orablu, it has been going on every May in Bologna since 2010 in collaboration with the Istituzione Bologna Musei and with the support of the Region Emilia–Romagna.

The Festival is a unique event dedicated to promoting olfactory culture by encouraging the sensorial development of the individual. It allows people to learn new expressive language and abilities linked to a perceptive field which we rarely exercise, but which is increasingly becoming a subject of interest in many disciplines.

Through conferences, expositions, workshops and masterclasses, the Festival strives to close the gap between culture and education in this sphere. The rich and accessible environment allows for experimentation and the dissemination of knowledge between a diverse range of professionals.

Bologna is the home of the festival, a city associated with knowledge on account of the ancient University and with enjoyment thanks to its lively nightlife and famous gastronomic tradition. The Festival unites these two concepts, creating a dialogue between the city’s artistic and cultural heritage and the Istituzione Bologna Musei.

Bologna’s Music Museum offers the chance to meet with fragrance creators and experts from all over the world. In collaboration with the University of Bologna’s specialisation course in Fashion, we organise seminars dedicated to the creation of, and research into perfume. Together with the MAMbo – Bologna Modern Art Museum, we are connecting visual and olfactory art.

The growing number of guests; both clients and brands, confirms the success of its unique formula: an elegant fusion of art and culture, combined with the aromatic experience of the products.


Smell Festival’s logo is composed of a beetle (musk beetle) in an oval surrounded by a streamer-like decoration. The logo was inspired by the stamp used by the perfume house Bortolotti di Bologna to seal their products from the end of the 1800’s to the middle of the 1900’s, particularly the famous Acqua di Felsina. With this concept in mind, Smell Festival honours a part of the history of Italian perfumery which today is often forgotten, despite its glorious nature. The Acqua di Felsina, as its creator loved to say, ‘scented the world’, or at least that of the Belle Epoque. The Bortolotti company originally decided to use a musk beetle as their trademark as it is known to release a pleasant smell, to such a degree that people would put them in their tobacco pouches to flavour their tobacco. Acting as a sort of emblem, the musk beetle certified the originality of Acqua di Felsina by Bortolotti di Bologna against any attempt of imitation. It may seem strange to associate an insect with the world of fragrance, but according to recent scientific research the scent that flowers release, perfected by years of evolution, is created to imitate the scent of insects in order to attract them.