Ex Ospedale Psichiatrico di San Salvi [Former San Salvi Psychiatric Hospital]
Officially inaugurated in 1891 (its construction had begun in 1887), the hospital was dedicated to the great physician Vincenzo Chiarugi, an outstanding figure in the field of psychiatry in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The San Salvi Hospital replaced the historic, but now inadequate, Florentine structures. The new complex was designed as a place able to respond to the new tendencies emerging in psychiatry at the time. In this sense, the relationship that developed between medical disciplines and psychiatric hospital architecture is particularly interesting. Basically, the project originated through close collaboration between the designer (Giorgio Roster) and the psychiatrists (Tamburini, Grilli, Pellizzari). The result was a village-like structure, consisting of several pavilions.
It is interesting to note that the hospital buildings were arranged within an ellipse. On the longer axis, to the west, were the men’s medical facilities, on the east those of the women. The two structures were connected by terraced corridors and underground galleries. The patients were housed in the following pavilions: the Calm; the Infirm and Paralytic; the Semi-Agitated, Dirty and Epileptic; the Agitated; the Pensioners; and the Paying Young Patients Section.
Located on the shorter axis of the ellipse were the administration (including the main office), the management and operational services (such as the kitchen, the laundry and the steam generator) and the religious ones (such as the church). These buildings were surrounded by a large park.
In 1895 the scientific laboratory was built and in 1904 the water supply system, which is probably the first work in reinforced concrete to be built in Florence. It was at San Salvi, in January 1918, that the great poet Dino Campana was interned, to remain there for many years, fourteen in fact.
At present, projects for fully restoring the San Salvi area and assigning it a new destination are being elaborated.
Texts by Graziano Magrini
English translation by Catherine Frost
Last update 19/gen/2008