Ospedale Vecchio

The Old Hospital


According to popular idiom, the whole complex of buildings which was first of religious use, then military, then medical and is now residential, is summed up in the name ‘Ospedale Veccio’, the Old Hospital. Although the functioning hospital, Villamarina, moved to another area of ​​the city many years ago, the name ‘ospedale vecchio’ remained. To tell the truth, the Old Hospital should have been called the New Hospital as it was built in the early nineteenth century following the change in the healthcare service and sanitation measures made by the Bonaparte-Baciocchi.

These measures provided hospitalization and care for the sick, not just for the poor and infirm, to be implemented in a large, ventilated area and possibly by the sea. It replaced the medieval hospital of Piazza Manzoni, the Holy Trinity, entrusted to the religious orders.

In 1810, the engineers in charge of the work joined two previous buildings: The Church of S. Antimo sopra i canali which had been built in the first half of the thirteenth century in Gothic style, as reflected by the windows with pointed arches in both the north and the east side apses, and the Convent dedicated to St. Anastasia, the patron saint of the city from 1615.

The hospital, founded in 1810, qualified as ‘Royal’ as early as 1833, by decree of the Grand Duke of Tuscany and was therefore recognised and accredited for the treatment of malaria. In the early 1900s, there was intense study of and care for respiratory diseases related to the working conditions in factories.  The development of these studies in the medical field, strongly boosted by social ethics, came under the influence of particularly charismatic doctors who worked in the town, such as Antonio Mori, appointed medical director in 1905 and Ettore Zanellini. It combined military and civilian functions until 1925, when local authorities called the architect Ugo Giovannozzi, one of the most celebrated artists of the early-twentieth-century, to restore it. The premises were expanded and equipped with large windows and modern operating theatres. Emergency and post-surgery hospitalization were supplied. Giovannozzi, the original hospital architect, worked in Piombino until the end of the 1930s, building other public and recreational buildings. He was an expert blessed with the spirit of service towards his fellow citizens. For the hospital renovation work, which lasted for eight years, he did not claim any compensation. He only asked for a plaque in memory of his son Mario who had died in a plane crash, to be raised.

The hospital continued to function under the name of the Vittorio Emanuele III Hospital until the Republican institutional change, when it took the name of ‘Civil Hospital of Piombino’.

It was subsequently absorbed into a new structure built in the 1960s, and it continued to expand in the 1980s.