Today’s issue of The Florentine carried the following news item. Before reading the article, just consider for a moment: how many hospitals do you know that:
- Are over 700 years old?
- Is the place where Leonardo allegedly performed dissections?
- Have guided tours of their basements?
- Have an underground passageway to a convent?
I know the answer is none! It is mind blowing to consider all of this! (I was lucky enough to walk by this hospital 2x a day for almost 10 months; my Italian language school is across the street. It was comforting to know that when I truly lost my mind [because learning another language is molto difficile!], I was not too far from medical treatment. :-) )
Santa Maria Nuova Hospital to restore its basements
Oldest hospital in Florence celebrates 730th anniversary
The oldest hospital in Florence, Santa Maria Nuova, has launched a fundraising campaign during its 730th year.
On June 21, the Santa Maria Nuova Foundation has organized an invitation-only fundraising dinner with the sole purpose of restoring the hospital’s basements.
The subterranean zone of the historic building is home to “Leonardo’s basins”, supposed to be where Da Vinci dissected human cadavers, although records bear no proof of this having occurred, and the underground passageway that the oblate nuns, the hospital’s former nurses, used to reach the wards from the nearby convent.
On June 23, the hospital will be opening its doors to the public with a book presentation scheduled at 11am, free guided tours at 7pm (meet outside the hospital entrance at 6:50pm) and a classical concert at 9pm in the church of Sant’Egidio.
“We are delighted to welcome Florentines to celebrate the city’s oldest hospital, which is 730 years old this year,” announced Giancarlo Landini, president of the Santa Maria Nuova Foundation. “It’s an opportunity to remember the history of this extraordinary place of care and help, which was founded in 1288 by Folco Portinari, the father of Beatrice immortalized by Dante, and who thanks to the generosity of benefactors was able to receive important works of art.
We also celebrate today’s Santa Maria Nuova, showing how we have reached this restoration and we will look to the future, considering how to make the most of our artistic and historic heritage, starting with the restoration and renewal of the former crypt of the church of Sant’Egidio and the hospital’s basements, the reason why the foundation has organized the fundraising dinner on June 21.”
At the press presentation, Tuscany’s health councillor Stefania Saccardi commented, “In recent years, the regional health unit has modernized the hospital while protecting its historic value. Now, through the hospital’s foundation, the time has come to restore its basements.”