Florence and Tuscany have always been one step ahead; for centuries and centuries this small town have left countless examples in the political, artistic, economic. Needless penned lists, too long, just remember the Florentine Republic, the abolition of the death penalty, and throughout the Renaissance cradle.
We could be second to the children?
Before 1400 the hospitals present in Florence were very many, hospitals intended as reception centers, where care or be helped. It is said that in via Romana, after the door to Piazza Pitti there were actually nine hospitals acts to ensure treatment to all those who from Porta Romana entered the city after long and often dangerous journeys.
Florentine hospital, before 1400, which is also dedicated to welcome children were only two, one of the Hospital of St. Gallen outside the walls and the other the Hospital of Santa Maria della Scala that Cione Pollini had assigned the administration of Minions friars Siena. Were hospitals who welcomed the children for treatment along with adult and dying, all in one room, as was then, with high risks of infections and mental and physical exhaustion.
The idea of a hospital for abandoned children and orphans sprang from the mind of Francesco Datini not realizing it in life made possible in death (in 1410) by imposing a bequest in a will that was intended to create a children’s home. This determined that in 1419 he began to put on paper the first agreements to achieve a hospital for orphans, that is one place for abandoned children who could take care of it. The Spedale degli Innocenti was being born.
This hospital was the first in Europe, departed from here all the works on behalf of children.
Critical to the realization of the project was “The Art of Silk” as invested “dell’uffizio” the care of foundlings commissioned by the Florentine Republic. The Art of Silk in 1421 he obtained the approval of the City Council and the equality of all the privileges enjoyed by other citizens hospital foundations for the new hospital, which was dedicated to Santa Maria degli Innocenti.
The Art of Silk increased the money donated many times and this money together with that offered by the Florentines, including illustrious as the Medici and the Albizzi, plus the help of the Florentine Republic, allowed him to buy a farm Albizzi on the Piazza Santissima Annunziata and entrust the project of the Hospital to Filippo Brunelleschi.
The hospital was designed and built between 1419 and 1444, work began officially in 1421 and remained under the direction of Brunelleschi until 1427 and later entrusted to Francesco della Luna.
The architecture of the Hospital of the Innocents is based on the initial project by Brunelleschi and the Moon brought subsequent amendments without debasing the initial project. The whole project was done with the primary thoughts turned to the little ones, the refectory, dormitories, an infirmary, the cloisters, the rooms were designed in a way that children could perform their main business, grow and learn, grow and pray, grow and run. One example is the cloister of rectangular shape made of this geometry, rather than square as used at the time, just to allow the children to run outside and if the weather was rainy to be outside but the porch.
In this hospital Brunelleschi made the functionality his goal modulating balance and geometry; This is nullifying the outside porch, 71 meters long which has the rounded arches and above them there are windows that allow a perfect illumination of the upper floor and over again there are rounds in terracotta representing putti, that is, the innocent, and are made by Andrea Della Robbia.
On 25 January 1445 the hospital was inaugurated April 11, 1451 and was consecrated the church. In the reality of things they work continued well into the 1500s but the children began to come into the womb-hospital since 1445. The Art of Silk was financing the Hospital through the compulsory payment of a contribution on the part of members and entrusted its management to a elected “the Hospital”, flanked by three “workers.” The first superintendent was Lapo Piero Pacini.
The Hospital welcomed all the abandoned children has officially left it abandoned at the famous wheel. At first the children could be abandoned placing them in a stack that is, a hollow-mail on the porch. Later it was replaced by a window that then in 1660 was moved to the extreme left of the porch. Mothers leave their children and the bell rang they were brought inside all without that mothers were seen and recognized. The children were very often with signs of recognition as a medal broken part of which was held by his mother and the other part left with the child, this could allow for future recognition and reunification. In 1875 the wheel was walled.
Already in 1448 there were 260 children were grown thanks to the hospital, and in 1560 came to 1320 and more than 3,000 in 1681. The number of children had become such that the milk that the nurses could supply became scarce so much so that in 1577 it put into effect for first time in the world bottle-feeding using cow’s milk by means of rudimentary bottles ie glasses with a spout pippio said.
The hospital in the centuries has enabled many children to grow and be able to have a life. The girls grew often entered the ranks of the weavers and the like, or you were nuns or even remained in the hospital to lend their help. The children often became the workshop kids and learn a trade. Both children and girls attending the school inside and learned to read, write and do arithmetic.
The Spedale degli Innocenti and the Art of Silk commitment were needed to save and enter the child’s world that would have a very sad fate and in fact even today the Innocentini surnames or the Innocents or even Nocentini are common surnames in Florence and testify that at least one ancestor of that family was brought up within the Hospital.
Today the Spedale degli Innocenti is also a museum open.