The Trovatelli Hospital

Bambino in fasce sopra il portale - Ospizio dei Trovatelli (F. Anichini)
Bambino in fasce sopra il portale - Ospizio dei Trovatelli (F. Anichini)
Opened as 'Ospedale della Pace e del Principe' (Hospital of Peace and of the Prince), it later became a shelter for abandoned children and was dedicated to Blessed Domenico Vernagalli, founder in 1218 of the first hospital for Abandoned children in Pisa, in the San Michele in Borgo area. The hospital was annexed to the church of San Giorgio ai Tedeschi (located in Via Santa Maria at number 102, 108), built in 1317 in honour of the German soldiers who died alongside the Pisans in the Battle of Montecatini, which saw the army of Uguccione della Faggiola win against the Florentines. The church underwent a major restoration in 1932, which gave it its current appearance. Since 1989, it has been granted to the knights of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem. The hospital in 1461 underwent a complete restyling at the behest of the newly elected archbishop of Pisa Filippo de’ Medici. In 1567, the entire complex passed under the control of the Spedale degli Innocenti of Florence and subsequently, in the eighteenth century, under the Ospedali Riuniti di Santa Chiara. Inside the building there is still the 'wheel of the innocents'.

The fate of the innocent: up to the 19th century, children that people wanted to abandon were left on a rotating wooden drum, placed inside the building and protected by a grate to restrict entry to infants only. However, these were not always foundlings, since during the period of the witch hunt, pregnancies had to be authorised by the Council of the People, in order to have full control over births and facilitate the work of the city registry. Families who for whatever reason failed to comply with the aforementioned law could face serious consequences and the worst of all was the accusation of witchcraft against the mother, as she was considered an accomplice of the Devil in generating a child. In this case, mother and child, if the pregnancy were not concealed and the newborn baby hidden (and left into the wheel), risked being killed. Abandonedchildren found inside the facility were registered and given a name and sometimes a surname. This is the origin of surnames like Esposito (exposed), Proietti, Colombi, Innocenti, Degl'Innocenti, Locatelli, but also Bastardi, Trovati, D’Ignoto.
Last update: 23/08/2021
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20m
Via Santa Maria, 187
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90m
Piazza del Pozzetto, 7 - Pisa
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100m
Piazza Arcivescovado, 13 - 1° piano
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177, Via Santa Maria
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40m
Piazza Arcivescovado, 3, 56126 Pisa PI
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