Hospital of St. Anne

(15th century)

via Cadorna, 4

The hospital was built in the second half of the 15th century on the place where a hospice and a church dedicated to St. Anne had already been built; the venture was promoted by the city authorities in order to incorporate all hospitalia antiqua (ancient hospitals) in a generale hospitale pauperum (a general hospital for the poor) and to rationalize the organization of assistance both in the city and in the suburbs. The project was favoured by the sermons of the Observant Michele Carcano and gained the support of Bishop Branda Castiglioni as well as of the Duke of Milan, who became mouthpiece of that by the Apostolic See. Although Pope Paul II had authorized the unification in 1468, the activity of the hospital began only in 1485 because of the opposition of the patrons and rectors of the ancient pious buildings.

Since its origins the hospital started to provide first aid to foundlings, pilgrims, miserable and sick people and only during the 18th century it became a health care place. By the end of the 19th century the increase in health necessities required a more spacious and modern place; in 1928 the works for the new health care centre started up in Camerlata area, where St. Anne’s was then moved in 1932. The building complex erected in the second half of the 15th century, repeatedly reworked and enlarged starting from the 17th century, is now housing the Conservatory dedicated to Giuseppe Verdi.

What documents tell us

From the resolutions issued by the deputies of the hospital, 1488-1500

Learning that Luigi de Olzate, son of the late Francesco, and his three children are in a desperate needy condition, the members of the Generale hospitale (General Hospital), moved by pity, order that a loaf of bread and a jar of wine are daily given to them for their sustenance; besides, as to Luigi’s daughter, six months’ aged, necessary measures are taken to find a nursemaid, who will be rewarded according to the hospital custom.

After being informed that a few days before, two parentless baby girls had been found respectively at St. Augustin’s and at St. Bartholomew’s and that a twenty months’ little boy was abandoned at the Grain Market, the members of the Generale hospitale, moved by pity, give instructions that nursemaids and anything else necessary should be provided.

Considering the serious state of famine, the members have ordered that, for the next fifteen days, six bushels of wheat, millet and rye are to be donated to bake bread so that it can be shared among the poor and the miserable.



Main photo. The façade of the hospital, 1907. Today the building is hosting the Conservatory

Below. Identification marks left in the outfit of children abandoned at the “Luogo Pio degli Esposti”, 19th century (from Nascere al tempo della ruota. Esposti. Mostra di documenti dell’Archivio Storico Provinciale, Como 9.11-9.12.2001)