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.
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.
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!