Castle Made of Sand, Mona di Orio Santal Nabataea

Books about mysterious lands, people who lived there & their doings are among my favorites when it comes to reading, especially if some magic is involved in the storyline. While most authors create landscapes of cities, countries or continents with their pure imagination, some of the mythical places & civilizations were once more than real… Thought maybe not seen by many. Like Petra, a city carved in sandstone, that became the cradle of the Kingdom of Nabataea. Trade routes of that place and legacy of its people are now being reflected in new fragrance by Maison Mona di Orio.


Calm is the word I would use to describe the opening of Santal Nabataea and it would be the most misleading word I could use.  Because once the perfume accommodates on skin, it reveals a prominent accord of black pepper. Warm & quiet for the first couple of seconds it becomes a vibrant ingredient in no time. Realistic spiciness and a twist of freshness that it has in the back smell as if someone crushed a peppercorn right in front of you. It has that slightly metallic pungency that goes right inside your sinuses, fills your nose with its aroma and make you exhale slowly, with content.

After a few minutes a peppery edge of Santal Nabataea becomes softer and other notes start to emerge. Fruity facet appears at that time but its smell is very unusual. It is apricot, but the juiciness and soft, fuzzy skin of a fresh fruit have been replaced by more dusty, tangy and less lactonic smells – an interpretation of a dried apricot. Less appealing in appearance but richer in flavor. A bit of tartness that is somewhere distant in the background could be associated with black currant leaf mentioned by brand but I’ll cut my speculations here since its role is minor for me.


Heart of Mona di Orio Santal Nabataea is filled with a floral scent that is quite abstract to my nose, therefore difficult to describe with words. It’s like a combination of something like rose, honeysuckle and waxy leaves. The smell I get is sweet and has powdery nuances. Looking at the composition I’m guessing that this is how oleander smells like. I don’t know many fragrances that would use it, hence my problems in describing it properly. Probably the fact that when I smell it I get sort of an overlay of black pepper and some resinous ingredient over the oleander accord. My perception is disturbed.

Resinous facet that I just mentioned becomes more defined as time goes by. Opoponax, as that’s what it is, introduces a balmy, gently honeyed vibe to Santal Nabataea. Followed by a smoked woody facet the perfume becomes more mysterious and enigmatic. I really like this charred wood impression as it adds more dimension to the blend opening up the ‘space’ it creates around the wearer with its sillage. When sandalwood joins the composition it instantly makes a statement – it created a ‘stand still’ moment in which anything else stops to matter and santal steals the show.


Sandalwood of Santal Nabatea isn’t like a varnished furniture piece that has a glossy surface and expensive look. Experience it gives is more raw – more realistic because of that. Imagine a cupboard in which you keep some little chunks of sandalwood. Their scent fills the space inside of a drawer and as soon as you open it the fragrance pours into the room. And there’s also a sack of coffee beans inside. Twist to the drydown of new Mona di Orio perfume that I love is when an impression of clay smell appears. It gives a whole new vibe to the scent. Mineral, incensy and moist. Love it!

When I first tried Santal Nabataea it was one day during summer and I wasn’t sure if I liked it or not. I made a note that I should try it again once the summer is over. So I did and I totally fell in love with this Maison Mona di Orio new creation. I’m truly amazed how original and interesting it is. Plus added bonus in form of meeting brand’s in-house perfumer Fredrik Dalman in Florence made me appreciate Santal Nabataea even more. If you love sandalwood it’s a must-try. Hopefully you’ll find it as unusual as I did. It comes in EdP concentration, in 75 ml flacon and 10 ml travel spray.

Tagged , , , ,

6 thoughts on “Castle Made of Sand, Mona di Orio Santal Nabataea

  1. Jillie says:

    Hi – not sure I would like all the elements of this, and have very different perceptions of sandalwood as, depending on its source, it can smell lovely or too harsh to my nose. But this would be worth trying for its unusual vibe.

  2. Undina says:

    I look forward to trying this perfume since I hope to have a better luck with newer creations from the brand. So far only Vanille worked for me. Amber was not bad but not great to warrant a purchase. But everything else from the brand just didn’t play nice on my skin. Hopefully, with a different nose behind it the success rate for me will improve.

    • lucasai says:

      I will keep my fingers crossed so that it works for you this time. I quite like it and having a travel spray would be nice. The bottle is gorgeous but I don’t need 75 ml – unless I do a split.
      You do have place to try Mona di Orio right?

      • Undina says:

        Unfortunately, none of the stores in my area stocks this brand. But maybe I’ll get to one of the NY stores early next year. Or will request a sample from Luckyscent next time I’m buying anything from them.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: