Florence’s one-of-a-kind Ospedale degi Innocenti (Hospital of the Innocents) is the oldest orphanage on the continent and offers travelers the perfect blend of Italian history, Roman artistry, classic architecture and lush gardens. It can only be described as one of the city’s oddest—and most beautiful—attractions. Built during the early 15th century, Ospedale degli Innocenti has served as a center of care for infants and children for more than 500 years and today also operates as a home for some of the nation’s best-known works of art.
In addition to a vast gallery, this historic landmark is also home to open cloisters and plenty of hospital-like rooms, including an infirmary and group dormitories. Travelers can explore the grounds and bear witness to giant frescos that depict scenes from the historic site’s lengthy past. Dozens of brilliantly colored paintings line the galleries and hallways projecting images of religious figures with dozens of children—a nod to the hospital’s original purpose. Travelers say the glazed terra-cotta reliefs of swaddled newborn babies are not to be missed and prove one of Ospedale degi Innocenti’s most unique details.
Ospedale degi Innocenti is located off of Via della Colonna and accessible via the number 6 and 31 buses.