The hospital was established around 1887 in the area of Borgo San Lazzaro (Volterra). The place reached its peak under the direction of Luigi Scabia (1900 – 1934); a psychiatrist who believed in occupational therapy and non-restrictive approach. He developed the concept of the village, where patients are not confined within the four walls and are free to walk around. Within the hospital he built a small hamlet which had its own bakery, shoe shop, blacksmith, laundry, electrical workshop, it basically became self sufficient, all with the work of the patients.
Many patients never left the hospital and after their death if unclaimed by family they were buried in the nearby cemetery. Also Luigi Scabia requested to be buried in the very same cemetery, resting amongst his patients, quite forgotten. At its peak the hospital housed around 6000 people and was one of the biggest in Italy.
In 1978 when the law changed the whole complex was closed. The letters of patients addressed to their relatives, which were kept in the medical records were published later on in the book ‘Corrispondenza negata’.
All what’s left now are crumbling buildings and memories like the one of the graffiti artist/patient called Oreste Fernando Nannetti or simply NOF4.
Below are some of the photos I’ve taken in 2013