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Ospedale San Niccolò

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Ospedale San Niccolò (1818 -)

Location: Via Roma 56, Siena, Grand Duchy of Tuscany

The Ospedale San Niccolò was founded in 1818 on the site of the former San Niccolò monastery. Its first medical superintendent, Guiseppe Lodoli, implemented modern therapeutic principles in the hospital, in contrast to relatively repressive treatment regimes imposed elsewhere. From 1858 to 1873, the famous Carlo Livi ran San Niccolò. Livi considered insanity as a species of illness, and its treatment as a medical specialization. He was an adherent of ‘moral management’ techniques, and was convinced that manual work had a restorative effect on his patients. For that reason, he organized San Niccolò along the lines of a village, with pavilions where different crafts were practised and wares sold. Quite apart from its therapeutic value, this approach guaranteed the institution’s financial autonomy.

At the beginning of the twentieth century, the Villagio Manicomiale del San Niccolò was formed, where almost two thousand psychiatric patients lived. (This may have been situated elswhere, possibly even outside Siena.) The Ospedale possessed an important scientific library, which has recently been transferred to the Biblioteca Central della Faccoltà die Medicina di Siena.