Nesti Dante - History

Unlike pottery and glass, it leaves no archaeological remains, nor is it reproduced in frescoes and paintings. We are talking about soap. It is perhaps for these reasons that nobody has ever been able to accurately reconstruct its history, from antiquity to the present day. Legend has it that a fisherman had left a cauldron on a beach in Liguria with some leftover olive oil and other substances, containing soda. Unintentionally, his wife boiled this mixture at length, obtaining soap, in dialect ‘savun’, which is alleged to have given the city of Savona its name. It was not until the early 19th century that a London barber, Andrew Pears, was to transform it into a real perfumed cosmetic.

Today, soap is not only a basic accessory for hygiene and beauty, but even a sort of “fetish” that nourishes the passion of many modern soapmakers…of the household version. They dabble in making products with the most varied techniques: cold-processing or hot-processing (in the oven or in a bain-marie for example), taking ready-made glycerine bases or “reprocessing” old cakes of soap. However, to transform a simple hobby into the vocation of an entire life, a few leisure hours and a pinch of enthusiasm are not enough. You need constancy and intuition, will and imagination, pragmatism and farsightedness.

This is a blend of qualities that are not easily found but which certainly belong to a pioneer of this artisanal activity, Dante Nesti, the founder of the soapmaking company of the same name, based in Florence. In September of 1945, at the age of 20, he started to make soap in his own home, using a small 50-litre cauldron. Only three years later, his ingenious but improvised skill had already taken on the features of a solid company registered with the Chamber of Commerce in the Tuscan capital.

Today, Nesti Dante srl, managed by his son Roberto and by the third generation (Carolina and Edoardo), is one of the few companies in the world which, although on an industrial scale, still produces soap with artisanal methods, carrying out the complete cycle of production. And it strictly follows the traditional process of boiling in a cauldron (with a capacity from 70,000 to 120,000 litres), which takes several days and the continual assistance, including manual, of master soapmakers and perfumers, who can monitor the various phases of the process (saponification, washing, liquidation, decantation and extraction from special vacuum driers).

This recipe for success is completed by the exquisite refinement of the packaging with attention paid to even the tiniest detail and the use of selected raw materials of very high quality and without synthetic surfactants, which are responsible for allergies and irritation of the skin, hair and eyes. The result of the Florentine company? Over half a century of coherent commitment, illuminated by the objectives of excellence of its founder:  “We will always work not to be the biggest, but to be the best.”  

So, for well over half a century, Nesti Dante has created distinctive and handcrafted soaps inspired by the beautiful region of Florence, Italy. Capturing the subtle fragrances of Florence, Mr. Nesti established a unique business, Nesti Dante, where he developed a vast collection of lushly-scented soaps through the long-held traditional method of saponification*. Working from his home, Mr. Nesti used small traditional cauldrons to breathe life into his distinctive soaps. This rare and handcrafted method of soap-making continues at the Nesti Dante factory in large cauldrons, which allow for the qualitative selection of each individual ingredient for a natural, richer and more skin-softening soap.

Originally categorizing Italy's earthly scents into four exclusive collections, namely flowers, fruits, herbs and vegetables, Nesti Dante developed each line with active ingredients from nature for gentle and effective cleansing. Infused with natural and restorative moisturizers and luxurious oils each soap and liquid gel leaves skin clean and lightly scented. The delicate texture and gentle, soothing properties of these formulas are beneficial for all skin types. Since then, other wonderful ranges have been developed and added that equally represent and reflect the beauty and wonders of their native Italy.


Cities of art, monasteries, hamlets, rural estates, forests, green hills and landscapes changing in color with the changing season are all pictures you can see from the train window travelling across Tuscany. Nature, art and taste for good cooking are all tied together, with nature perceived as a friend to be respected, to please and to be shaped by enchanting its beauty; art inspired by nature, which man has transformed into landscape.

The sensibility and wisdom of Nesti Dante towards nature, art and life express themselves as a tribute to their land, with his evocative lines of natural soaps.

Nesti Dante's high-end, exclusive Florentine packaging depicts lovely illustrations of soaps being handmade in the best Italian soapmaking tradition. Each soap presents a nostalgic, soothing image that beckons the modern consumer to indulge in these extraordinary scents from the Florentine Hills.