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Complesso Museale di Santa Maria della Scala

For a change from all the religious artwork you will have seen head for the Complesso Museale di Santa Maria della Scala (Picture 1) (tel. 0577 22 48 11; Piazza del Duomo). At first a hospice for those making pilgrimages, then a hospital for centuries, it is a must-visit for its secular frescoes by Domenico Bartolo painted in honour of the hospital and patrons‘ good deeds.
There´s no need to enter the hospital itself: but the Chiesa della Santissima Annunziata (Picture 2) should be the first thing you see in the complex. It underwent modifications in the 15th century.
The Cappella del Manto is beautifully frescoed. Among its highlights is the Meeting of Saint Joaquin and Saint Anna by Beccafumi made in 1514.
Then follow the long hallway and on your left you will find the Sala del Pellegrinaio. This was built in the 14th century especially for the pilgrims and later on it was used as the main ward. Most frescoes in it were di Bartolo’s work. Il Vecchietta made the first panel in which he depicts orphans going to heaven. Hospitals in Tuscany used to protect orphans in those times. Other panels depict wet nurses nursing motherless babies and a doctor listening to his patient.
On the ground floor is the Fienile which used to be the space where he hospital stored food. The original panels of the Fonte Gaia and some reproductions of it have been conserved here. On this level is also the Oratory of Saint Catherine of the Night.
The Museo Archeologico housed in the Complesso Museale di Santa Maria della Scala showcases marvellous collections, mostly local findings such as funerary urns made of alabaster by the Etruscans, gold Roman coins, Etruscan and other cultures statues, household goods and bronze votive statuettes .
Tickets to Santa Maria della Scala include museum admission.