Hidden treasures

Where does the name of the Ospedale del Ceppo in the city of Pistoia come from?

Mysteries & Legends

Where does the name of the Ospedale del Ceppo in the city of Pistoia come from?

Ospedale del Ceppo undoubtedly counts among the many masterpieces that the delightful city of Pistoia has to offer. What fascinates tourists is especially the Robbiano Frieze, making them look up at it in admiration. And, above the portico there are seven splendid glazed ceramic panels that represent seven deeds of mercy. These works are of such importance that copies are exhibited at the Pushkin museum in Moscow and at the Victoria and Albert museum in London.

But this hospital has another peculiarity that is hidden all in its name. Have you noticed? Most Italian hospitals are named after a saint. In fact, even in Pistoia the new hospital, inaugurated in 2013, was named after the city’s Patron Saint: San Iacopo. But if the 'old' one dates back to the thirteenth century, then why is it called ‘ceppo’ (a piece of wood)? After all, Pistoia is not far from Collodi where, as is well known, pieces of wood gave life to fantastic stories! And in fact Pistoia is no exception: an ancient and fascinating legend explains its name.

Let’s go back to 1218: Antimo and Bandinella, a wealthy couple from Pistoia, began to worry about the fact that they had no children to leave their wealth to, and didn’t know who to leave it to. So, one night both spouses had a vision of the Virgin Mary in a dream, or, according to other versions of the story, an angel. But what is important is that in the dream they were asked to look for an abandoned trunk and to build where they found it a shelter to welcome the sick, poor and disabled. Since it was winter, the couple thought the request really was absurd, but still decided to look around the whole city. And so it was that on the bank of the river Brana they found a piece of wood that was blossoming. This was precisely where the hospital was built, overlooking the river, and in memory of the couple’s dream it was called ‘Ospedale del Ceppo’. So that’s where such a peculiar name came from!

What do you think? Did reading this story make you want to go and visit it for yourself? How to blame you, it sounds like a great idea! Waste no time, book one of our hotels in Pistoia and seize the chance to visit the area around this beautiful city.

And since Florence is only a few kilometers away, we recommend continuing your artistic journey in Tuscany with our unmissable Guided Tour: Uffizi Gallery and Accademia in just two hours.

By Insidecom Editorial Staff

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