The "Manicomio provinciale del Pionta", named after the Pionta hill on which it was located, is in Arezzo (Via del Duomo Vecchio 12), near the city centre. Nowadays the complex of buildings is divided between university of Siena, the hospital of the city and an high school.
The entrance-Frontal street view of the main building
The Provincial Psychiatric Hospistal of Pionta in Arezzo was built after a long period when the insane were sent to the nearby mental hospitals, especially to the Old "Villaggio manicomiale di San Niccolò", in Siena. A great amount of money was allocated for that purpose. The town councillor Antonio Pancrazi, in an assembly in 1890, suggested building a mental hospital for the province of Arezzo. In 1898 the works started. After three years in 1901 some buildings were completed and the hospital became operational. In 1912 the Institute, already completed, was presented in the international exposition of mental health in Rome and it was awarded a special ''diploma of honor''. This award had a signifincant importance because the hospital, due to its organization, became an example for other psychiatric hospitals in Italy.
During the First World War the structure with his mordern technology and the operating theatre ran as a foothold for the wounded soldiers.
An old aerial view of the psychiatric hospital
In 1926 it became a neuropsychyatric hospital and remained unchanged until 1975 when the Department of Neurology went to the competence of the General Hospital of Arezzo.
On 12th November 1943 it was bombed for the first time. Some patients were injured, a few died; the others were quickly trasferred to ''Old Villaggio Manicomiale’’ of Siena and to a manor in the countryside of Arezzo. Right after the liberation the damages were repaired and in 1947 it was able to accept all the patients who had been previously moved. It remained an important psychiatryc hospital until 1989 when it closed permanently.1
The clock building
This was the main building of the hospital. It housed the administrative headquarters and the archives.
An old plan of the director's office of the psychiatric hospital
The men's building
As the name says this part was dedicated to the lodging of the men and their workshop. Indeed they were involved in occupational therapy.
The women's building
The women, like the men, had their own building with their workshop.
The Supervision department
The mentally ill who were sent there lived completely isolated from everyone, including their families.
The Padiglione Inquieti
In this building, which looks like a prison, the patients considered dangerous were confined. It was surrounded by high walls, it had barred windows that could be opened only from the outside, even without the staff should enter. There were also the usual restraints for long periods. All this contributed to strengthen the image of the dangerous crowds. After the closure of the department, the building housed a higher technical institute.
The Infirmary for men and women
In spite of the name of this building the medical and nursing staff were minimized since the patients were considered hopeless.
The Neurological pavilion
Between 1926 to 1975 it hosted people who had nervous system problems. In those years the hospital was called ''Provincial Neuropsychiatric Hospital''. In 1975 it went to the competence of the General Hospital of Arezzo.
The Sala dei Grandi
The "Sala dei grandi", formerly a representative office, hosted the weekly "General" of the psychiatric hospital Assembly from 1971 to 1979. Everyone -patients,visitors and operators- could attend the meetings. The several debated topics ranged from the living conditions in the wards to the health policy issues that concerned the structure. About 500 general assemblies were held here. Nowadays this space is a study room of the University of Siena.
This is a fresco on the wall (1958) placed on the largest wall of the "Sala dei grandi"
The staff of the hospital and the patients took part to the services held in the curch.
The Farmers' cooperative
One of the aims of the hospital was to became as free-standing as possible. Indeed, in this building there lived “lightly” mentally ill people, who worked in the fields, whichbelonged to the hospital. They used to produced wine and olive oil; they also bred animals.
An old document related to the lands owned by the institute
The oven, following the asylum policy, allowed to make less oppressive permanence of the lightly ill patients in the psychiatric hospital.
Such as the oven, the laundry offered another job opportunity for patients of the psychiatric hospital. Still today on the left side of the building it is possible to see the original cistern that supplied water to the laundry.
- Photos and main text by Francesco Montini moc.liamg|79ocsecnarf.initnom#| and Sofia Sacchetti moc.liamg|hccasaifos#| (January 2017); old photos retrieved from old prints in the Arezzo's Public Library
- Locate the item on this Google Maps
- "Il Manicomio di Arezzo" page on amaranto magazine
- "Ex Ospedale Psichiatrico di Arezzo" page on Itinerari Scientifici in Toscana
- "Archivio storico dell'Ospedale neuropsichiatrico di Arezzo" page on DSFUCI