Walking through the streets of the historic town center of Pistoia, it is easy to come across unexpected and precious works, such as the 13th century Ospedale del Ceppo, which is striking for its remarkable frieze in glazed terracotta placed to decorate its external loggia.
A hospital founded in 1277, according to legend in the place indicated by the miraculous flowering of a dry stump, and later expanded following the plague epidemic of 1348.
To the frieze is dedicated a section of the Museum of the Spedale del Ceppo, since 2017 hosted inside this former hospital complex. The museum itinerary traces the historical, architectural and artistic events of the building and the history of healthcare in Pistoia, through tools belonging to various eras, such as the collection of surgical instruments, and modern multimedia supports.
The section dedicated to the frieze reveals its history and artistic aspects, with in-depth information on the glazed terracotta technique and on the other Della Robbia sculptures existing in the city and in the territory. The frieze is a Renaissance masterpiece by Santi Buglioni (1536-28), depicting the Seven Works of Mercy, with a final scene realized fifty years later by the painter Filippo di Lorenzo Paladini from Pistoia. The tondos and half-rounds, placed between the arches, are the work of the Della Robbia and depict scenes from the life of Mary and coats of arms.
The museum tour ends in the garden, where there is the small and elegant Teatrino Anatomico (1785-87), used for the study of anatomy and perfectly preserved today.
Inside the Ospedale del Ceppo, there is also the Museum of Pistoia Sotterranea, a real archaeological path that winds under Pistoia, to discover the most ancient architectural testimonies of the city.
Accessibility information: musei.comune.pistoia