2017 – Florence – Museo Degli Innocenti & Teatro Del Sale

M.G. Designs was our first stop today. I wanted to pick out a few of Maria’s beautiful pottery pieces to add to my collection. We figured out I could pay her with PayPal (since we don’t have credit cards until we return home). Otherwise, I would have had to go home empty-handed. (This is just a display. Love her new fig pattern!)

Museo Degli Innocenti was our next destination. It was run by a secular of nuns whose habits (uniforms) looked very similar to the ones worn in the TV show “The Flying Nun.”

It seems so impracticable knowing they were probably running after kids, cooking, cleaning, and such. And trying to get through the narrow doors with the wide and tall hats? 

Originally this was called the Ospedale degli Innocenti, which means Foundling Hospital. At the beginning of the fifteenth century, it was the first secular institution dedicated to taking in children. Many wet-nurses were needed to help feed and care for the children.

Mothers could anonymously leave their babies in this window with bars just big enough to slip a baby through. This went on for hundreds of years. Here is a little more information from Wikipedia:

“Children were sometimes abandoned in a basin which was located at the front portico. However, this basin was removed in 1660 and replaced by a wheel for secret refuge. There was a door with a special rotating horizontal wheel that brought the baby into the building without the parent being seen. This allowed people to leave their babies, anonymously, to be cared for by the orphanage. This system was in operation until the hospital’s closure in 1875.”

Filippo Brunelleschi designed the square where these buildings are located and some of the interior courtyards. He created the pillars that were as tall as the distance between each pillar and the distance of the pillar to the wall behind it. Brillant! I’m a fan of Brunelleschi’s work – after all – he created the dome of the Duomo, among other things.

This photo of what looks like file drawers is where a child’s link to his or her parents was kept. (These, of course, are modern replica displays.) When a parent left a baby or child, they would leave something to identify them – like tear a piece of fabric from clothing so if they could take them back at some point, they had something to distinguish or confirm their identity. There were all sorts of objects in these drawers – a whisp of ribbon, a partial bracelet or a religious cross. I guess it makes sense to have this type of identification system since most people in those days couldn’t read or write.  

They claim the swaddling method of soothing babies was created here. They had pictures and videos around the museum showing how they would swaddle the babies with strips of cloth. There was even a life-size exhibit where you could stand behind the strips of cloth and be photographed as swaddled. Ricardo wouldn’t do it. Probably afraid I would leave him here without any identification – because he doesn’t have any!

Speaking of identification, we almost couldn’t rent the audio portion of the tour to the museum because they ask people to leave an ID card. Thankfully, I still have my driver’s license and that satisfied the museum attendant. 

Around 1490 Andrea della Robbia was commissioned to design what we know today as the Della Robbia (featuring a baby in swaddling clothes).

The museum layout is very interesting. On the bottom floor, it speaks to the hospital, children, and orphanage. The second floor is devoted to the architecture of the building. And the third floor (really the fourth but I’ve given up trying to figure out their system) is an art museum, mostly Madonna and child, Della Robbias, and alter pieces. Spectacular!

Lunch today was recommended by Maria Giovanna and was located just down the street from her shop and our BNB. Guess they aren’t up-to-date with computers or typed menus. However, they know how to cook and that’s what mattered to us – the food was excellent and just the right price. 

Since our Rome incident, I’ve been packing the money and paying for everything. I asked Ricardo how he likes being a “kept” man – and I didn’t like his answer one bit! You might guess what it is. 

Tonight’s last adventure in Florence is dinner at Teatro Del Sale. The name means salt theater. I mentioned in our original agenda about trying to get into this place for four years. We finally made it!

So when we left the BNB Ricardo started dropping pieces of cornetto (breakfast croissant) along the way. He wants to be able to make sure we find our way home tonight because we’ll be coming home late. Me? I’m taking photos of the streets so I can recognize them when we return. Turns out we didn’t need either as we’ve finally gotten our bearings of where our little slice of heaven is located in the city and made it to and back from dinner without any problem.



What a kitchen!

When the next course was ready, a guy would come to the window and yell out what was being served. Couldn’t understand a word he was saying. You had to get up and get the next dish yourself. Ricardo just got up and followed the crowd. 

Stage in the background. We all turned our chairs around after dinner to watch the flamingo guitar player and dancers. No pictures of the performance were allowed – sorry.

Ricardo enjoying the music.

This dinner theatre type atmosphere was just fun to experience. 

 Heading home tomorrow. All things considered, it was a great trip. 

Leave a Comment

Scroll to Top