In 1640 the priest and doctor Giuseppe Pediligeri turns the ancient “Domus Ospitalia”, attached to the St. John the Baptist’s church(San Giovanni Battista) into the “Santa Maria della Pietà Hospital" (Ospedale Santa Maria della Pietà). In 1698 the Modican versatile Enlightement scientist Tommaso Campailla builds his mercury vapour stovens known as “botti” for the treatment of Syphilis disease in one of the hospital rooms. He modifies a technique pioneered in France; there, the patient’s head would project from the top of the barrel. Campailla’s design was squarer and the patient’s whole body sat in the wooden cabin and inhaled infusions of mercury causing them to sweat profusely. For this reason the building was dedicated to him and was called “Sifilicomio Campailla” (Syphilis Hospital Campailla). Today the building is home to the museum of the “botti” and the anatomical theatre.
On the first floor of the building it is possible to see the original “botti”. They allowed the inhalation of mercury infusions and incense. The “botti” are probably built in Guaiaco wood coming from the French Antilles. The “botti” had been used to cure rheumatism until 1940. At present the “botti” are listed on REIL (registro delle eredità immateriali locali-register of the intangible local heritage).
Inside the same building there are the ancient hospital rooms, a little library of the time where you can find some ancient medical treatises, and the anatomical theatre
- Photos by Stefano Dimarco moc.liamg|49onafetsocramid#| (December 2013), courtesy of Associazione Ingegni-Cultura-Modica.
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-V. Guccione, F. Iemolo, S. Incatasciato, M. Spillicchi (a cura di), Tommaso Campailla e la Scuola Medica Modicana, Kromatografica, Ispica 2010, pp. 157