L’Ospedale degli Innocenti

L’Ospedale degli Innocenti (The Orphanage of the Innocent)

Hello everyone,

I want to share with all of you that I am having a great time in Florence, Italy.  There is not a single word to describe this city.  The words “amazing” and “unbelievable” do this city no justice.  At first, when you see the architecture of this city, you will quickly find that it is very different to what we are accustomed in the United States. 

Some cities in the United States, what we called historic cities like some structures in Danville, Indiana to provide an example may resemble some of the structures in Florence, Italy, in a smaller version.  The materials used to build them are different.  All the structures in Florence, Italy are built with stones, bricks, and cement.  In Indiana, in the past they probably used a combination of bricks, plaster and what is used today is mostly drywall and face brick facades. 

Most of the buildings in downtown Florence are called Palazzos or palaces because they were built by wealthy people with political power.  They are at least 5 or 6 stories high and what caught my eye is that they all are painted with a similar yellowish or cream color.  The same color of the structures with terracotta roofs provides the structures with a harmonious and uniform perspective.  The panoramic view is incredible and nice to look at.

Later when you start to explore and dig in in the history and culture of Florence, you will be amazed of the extravagance, luxury, and the treasure of paintings, frescoes, sculptures, that you will find inside the structures that you visit.  For example, the Palazzo Vecchio, the Ufizzi Museum, the Palazzo Pitti, and most of the basilicas and churches just to mention some of them. 

The architecture of some of these structures’ dates to at least 500 years, and in most of the cases the structures have gone through renovations.  There is a law that prohibits that any historical building be touched by a person for purposes of renovation. It must go through a process and the authorities establish the way and the means on how to provide a specific structure with the renovation and maintenance it needs to be preserved for this and future generations to admire.

Today, we visited L’Ospedale degli Innocenti, The Orphanage of the Innocent. It is a structure considered to be the first example of the Italian Renaissance architecture.  The architect in charge of designing it was Filippo Brunelleschi in 1419.  It has many round arches supported by columns and in between the arches and above the columns there used to be roundels painted white.  Four decades later, Andrea de la Robbia had the idea of creating the Bambinos or little children, babies, that were wrapped in tied clothes, except one.  These bambinos or babies are in a circular shape that fit the roundels.

The Orphanage of the Innocent was not simply another great structure to represent the Italian Renaissance architecture, it was a structure built to provide a community service.  In those years, if there were families, or even a single mother who was having a hard time bringing up her children, this place was open for people to drop off unwanted babies.  There used to be a type of basket in one of the corners where a parent could drop his or her child without being identified.  

Most of the time the children that were abandoned by their parents used to bring with them a token or recognizable item that would provide parents later with the opportunity to identify their child if they wanted to.  When a child arrived, there was a system in place to annotate all the identifying factors and items of the child for future reference.  The orphanage was not only a place where babies were getting their basic needs satisfied. The orphanage paid people to come there and teach these children how to read and write, to teach them trades.  The orphanage today houses one of the offices of the Unesco and it still provides community services for the community with main emphasis on children.

I also wanted to add that I am taking a course called Secret Gardens of Italy, I could not have chosen a better course. I am learning in depth the history of the most powerful family in Florence, the Medici Family, who loved the arts to such extent that they invested a great portion of their fortune in their patronage for the arts, including hiring sculptors, painters, architects, and all sorts of artists in different categories.  

The Medici family discovered Michelangelo in the sculpture school founded by Lorenzo the Magnificent, one of the rulers of the Medici Family.  I am also learning the origin of the Italian gardens, which is a symmetrical garden with bushes, flower beds and of course a fountain in the center and statues decorating the garden.  The garden was used for contemplation and meditation. 

This is what I have for now!



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