Thank you, Jane!

Last year, Jane asked me to find and take photos of  particular stemme (family coats of arms) in Prato. As  luck would have it, the site seemed to be under restoration, so I couldn’t see them at all. It was the same story at the Ospedale del Ceppo, in Pistoia, where I had hoped to see the ceramics by Giovanni della Robbia. Totally covered, totally inaccessible.

So, acceding to the wishes of Jane, today I got on the train and went to Prato, and then back to Pistoia, and I’m very glad I did.

Firstly, here are the photos for Jane. I’m sure she’ll report back as to which family (or families) owned the stemme.





Having achieved that goal, I got back on the train and went to Pistoia. Before finding the Ospedale, I had another fine meal. This time, I chose pappardelle al sugo di cinghiale (wide noodles, with wild boar sauce), and verdure saltate (sauteed vegetables). A glass of local merlot completed my tasty and healthy meal.

The Ospedale was founded in 1277, and became the main hospital of the city in 1348. (It no longer fulfills that function.)


The loggia is decorated with a ceramic glaze frieze by Santi Buglioni, portraying seven works of mercy, and scenes of the virtues.

Here are just a few of these works of art.

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The tondoes  (a Renaissance term for a circular work of art) are by Giovanni della Robbia, and depict the Annunciation, the Glory of the Virgin, the Visitation and the Medici coat of arms.

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As I turned to leave, a sign caught my attention. A tour of a subterranean area of Pistoia was on offer! I called the number on the sign, and soon met the young man from the Ospedale office who would be my guide. It turned out we would be going underneath the hospital complex, where once a river ran. The water was used to grind grain into flour, and to press olives for the oil. I guess the river has been diverted now, as we had totally dry feet during our walk.


Here are my guide and his apprentice at the end of the tour, quenching their thirst at a fountain. Thank you to both of you!




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28 responses to “Thank you, Jane!

  1. Caroline

    Just catching up, having got very behind. What lovely and interesting pictures, thank you!

    I always remember 2 phrases from the guidebook I took on my very first visit to Italy, about 25 years ago. One was “the stripiest church in Christendom” which I think was in the Prato section – and presumably about the very church in your photo! And the other was the description of Pistoia as a “very gloomy town” – did you find it so? I don’t think I did, but we only more or less passed through.

    Coincidentally I’ve just got back from seeing my doctor who prescribed a short break in Tuscany at Easter! Where would you go? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Don’t you just love finding a unique opportunity to do something different! Your underground tour sounds great.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh, those Italians. Even their hospitals look like works of art. Thanks for the tour!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow, this is amazing. So glad you got the underground tour! I think having this old art out in public and often well maintained is miraculous. Now, I have a bone to pick. I never heard what that frosted slipper or boat cleat or whatever it was, was….Curious minds want to know…

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  5. Thank goodness you told us your guide was having a drink and not trying to look up the garment of his apprentice. A fascinating day and tour – how wonderful it is to be able to “step out” like that and make fabulous discoveries.

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  6. Thank you for this tour. My feet stayed dry too.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Wonderful report and photographs!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Jane

    Oh Yvonne many thanks and many hugs! I knew one was Medici…but it bugged me so much that I could tell the other two were not, but could not find their images anywhere, close enough to examine!!! The OPA stands for Opera del Duomo (in this case Prato one must assume). The second with all the fleur-de-lis is the stemma for the commune of Prato. I guess all 3 must have pitched in for the cost of this exterior pulpit. The Medici certainly got around witness the della Robbia in Pistoia. The blue ball courtesy of honor awarded them by the French King.

    Love the underground tour!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Many thanks for this excellent tour.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I never cease to be amazed at how that culture has combined the most mundane things in life with such great artistic beauty. Wonderful tour, Yvonne!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. And thank you, Yvonne, for taking us along!

    Liked by 1 person

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