Occuping the whole northern side of piazza Sant’Agostino°°, the palace is one of the most astonishing creations by Duke Francesco III in the second half of the XVIII century. Built on the site of an old ‘Congregazione della Santa Unione’, devoted to helping the poor and disabled, the edifice was designed by Alfonso Torreggiani in the years 1753-8. Over the decades, it has grown along viale Berengario, incorporating the anatomical theatre and the little church of San Nicolò.
Over the entrance, you can see an open hand, symbol of the ‘Opera Pia Generale dei Poveri’, located here. The wrought iron bars over the windows and the railings in the internal court are by Giovan Battista Malagoli (XVIII century).
On the right of the entrance is the extraordinary 18th century pharmacy, with its original furnishing and the fathers of medicine painted on the ceilng. Among them, the symbol of the golden open hand says ‘Patet omnibus’, which in latin means ‘look after everyone’.
A hospital for many years, the edifices will be restructured by to the famous architect Gae Aulenti. It will house some cultural institutions (a linguistic centre, an art gallery, an auditorium and a centre for photography), now in the Palazzo dei Musei° and the Fondazione Fotografia.
[Images by the Author with the kind permission of the Fondazione Fotografia]