Spedale degli Innocenti

The Sepdale degli Innocenti, Florence. (Photo by Richard Mortel)
The Sepdale degli Innocenti portico by Brunelleschi

Europe's original Red Cross, decorated with find Renaissance art

A Luca della Robbia terracotta tondo on the Sepdale degli Innocenti, Florence. (Photo by Richard Mortel)
A Luca della Robbia terracotta tondo.

Europe's oldest foundling hospital, opened in 1445, is still going strong as a convent orphanage, though times have changed a bit.

The lazy Susan set into the wall on the left end of the arcade—where once people left unwanted babies, swivelled it around, rang the bell, and ran—has since been blocked up.

The portico

The colonnaded portico ★ (built 1419–26) was designed by Filippo Brunelleschi when he was still an active goldsmith.

It was his first great achievement as an architect and helped define the new Renaissance style he was developing.

The rotating delivery door for foundlings on the porch of the Sepdale degli Innocenti, Florence. (Photo by The Blue Lotus)
The rotating delivery door for foundlings.

Its repetition by later artists in front of other buildings on the piazza makes Piazza SS. Annunziata one of the most exquisite squares in all Italy.

The spandrels between the arches of Brunelleschi's portico are set with glazed terra-cotta reliefs of swaddled babes against rounded blue backgrounds—hands-down the masterpieces of Andrea della Robbia, commisisoned around 1490.

The museum

Ghirlandaio's Adoration of the Magi in the pinacoteca of the Sepdale degli Innocenti, Florence
Ghirlandaio's Adoration of the Magi (1484–88).

The institute inside also has a small museum in the Long Gallery housing a pinacoteca of Renaissance altarpieces, one of the greatest of which is by Domenico Ghirlandaio: an 1484–88 Adoration of the Magi.

Also be on the lookout for a very early Botticelli (a 1465 Madonna and Child with Angel painted at the age of 20, and pretty much a copy of a piece by his matser Filippo Lippi), as well as for altarpieces by Piero di Cosimo (Madonna Enthroned), along with another Luca della Robbia masterpiece, the 1445–50 Madonna and Child.

Also here are a series of large detached frescoes (1575) from Ognissanti by Alessandro Allori.

Tips & links


Piazza Santissima Annunziata 12
tel. +39-055-20-371


Thurs–Tues 8:30am–2pm



Firenze Card: No


Bus: 6, 19, 31
Hop-on/hop-off: Piazza Libertà Viale Matteotti (C), Libertà (A, B); Independenza (B)

How long does Spedale degli Innocenti take?

Planning your day: Just to peek at the facade takes all of 2 minutes. To peruse the paintings inside, give it another 25–40 minutes.

» Florence itineraries


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