The Ceppo Hospital, founded in the thirteenth century, soon became the most important health center in the city. The building was enlarged several times over the centuries, especially during the 1348 plague and in the fifteenth century when the wing with the facade featuring a Renaissance loggia decorated by a Robbia frieze in glazed terracotta. The original building comprises the Sant’Atto ward, with large windows and an architecture similar to a church; there was also an altar because at that time patients first had to pray to God! The other ancient former ward of San Leopoldo is now the headquarters of the Pistoia Medical Academy.
In the olden days, this ward was used as a lazaretto, as can be seen from the walkway used by the doctors to keep themselves at a distance from patients with infectious diseases and lowering food and medicine. Surgical lessons were held in the hospital even since the sixteenth century. The medical-surgical school of Pistoia (the only one in the Granduchy), founded in 1666, continued for must of the eighteenth century when, together with other scientific institutions in the Granduchy – such as the Specola of Florence – it was closely monitored by Pietro Leopoldo of Lorena. The school, divided into three classes, lasted six years and was attended by a small number of students, including the famous anatomist-pathologist from Pistoia, Filippo Pacini, who was the first to discover, in 1854, the fibroin that Koch later described as the cholera bacillus. The anatomy lessons were held in the Anatomical theater, a very rare late eighteenth century neo-classical building, totally frescoed according to the taste of the times with grotesques and medallions with pale colours such as pink, light blue and green; a strong contrast between the function of the building and the sophisticated drawing room atmosphere that arouses a cynically estranging charm…
The school continued until 1844 when it was closed due to the low number of students. The Medical academy named after Pacini picked up its heredity. In the room furnished after the War with the furniture from the hospital pharmacy and the school, there is a large number of surgical instruments belonging to the school dating from the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries. The museum documents how the imagination of surgeons of those times seemed limitless! Forceps, knives, cauteries, silver urethral tubes, pincers, probes, hooks and many other things were used more to explore the recessed of the human body rather than to cure! At Pistoia, the flourishing workshops that produced both arms and surgical instruments were famous throughout Europe for their high quality. The term scalpel, „bisturi“ in Italian, derives from “bistorio”, a typical knife made in Pistoia which in turn derives from “Pistorium”, the Latin name of the city.
MUSEUM OPENING HOURS From October to March: Every day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Guided Tours also in English: 10.30 a.m.– 11.30 a.m.– 12.30 a.m.– 2 p.m.– 3 p.m.– 4 p.m. – 5 p.m.
From April to September: Every day from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Guided Tours also in English: 10.30 a.m.– 11.30 a.m.– 12.30 a.m.– 2 p.m.– 3 p.m.– 4 p.m. – 5p.m – 6 p.m.
MUSEUM TICKETS Full Ticket: € 9,00
Special reduced Ticket for Guests of Agriturismo I Pitti € 4,50
Pistoia Underground Museum Piazza Giovanni XXIII 13 – Pistoia
The guided tour lasts about 1 hour, includes the underground site, the
Anatomy Theatre, the Medical Academy and Surgical Instruments.
The temperature in the underground galleries is approx. 20 °C.
More info: www.irsapt.it
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