History of Spedale San Pier Novello

The building that houses the Bed & Breakfast San Pier Novello was founded many centuries ago with the purpose of offering hospitality. In 1349, the Florentine nobleman Piero di Cione Ridolfi, who had been gonfalonier of the Florentine Republic, ordered the construction of this structure. At that period, it was called “spedale” (hospital) because it was built to provide accomodation and shelter for the poor and the wayfarers. Today, the noble coat of arms of the Ridolfi family continues to be visible in number 64r of Via Romana. Back in the day, pilgrims constantly passed this way to enter and leave the city. The documents of that period pronounce the exact purpose of the Spedale di San Pier Novello: “to offer accomodation to all those who asked for it.”
In the 16th century, the spedale was confiscated after a conflict that erupted between the Pucci and the dei Medici families. In 1751, it was closed, sold and was converted to a private residence with the addition of new rooms. Since 1952 up to date, the Malenotti family has lived in the residence in Via Romana. They have then decided to transform it into a Bed & Breakfast, restructuring and financing the restoration of the precious frescoes revealed, and thereby allowing the Spedale di San Pier Novello to serve its original purpose.

The restoration

The open gallery entrance of the Spedale was brought back to life during the renovation that started in the winter of 2017. It is a breathtaking interior with life-sized 14th century frescoes depicting the lifes o fhe saints and of the Annunciation. A portal in stone, no longer whole, but identical to the form of the one on Via Romana, was revealed in the background wall that has today's visible frescoes. It indicated the exact entrance of the rooms.
The first fresco to have been rediscovered was the Annunciation. It slowly re-emerged between the shelves and the closet, immersed in a patina secolare. From there it became apparent that the other walls also hid such marvelous treasures as well. Soon, other works such as Saint Giorgio and the dragon, the scenes of the life of Saint Lorenzo and fragments of Saint Girolamo and the lion, were retrieved. All these were surrounded by a triumphant architecture worthy to frame these icons.
The team of Florentine restorers, headed by our architect and his studio, embarked on a slow, careful and thorough restoration. This magnificently executed work included the reconstruction of the museum and the interior design that complemented the taste and the materials of our historical laboratory “Piumaccio D'Oro”that supplied all the furniture furnishes.

The Malenotti family

The history of Malenotti family has always been deeply connected to the city of Florence, and in particular to the Oltrarno district. Before buying the current San Pier Novello in 1952, grandparents and great-grandparents lived in other famous streets of the area, such as Borgo Tegolaio and Via del Leone, giving way to a tradition of the family: living in San Frediano the “coolest neighborhood in the world” (Lonely Planet 2017). Even the events that have marked the history of Italy are linked by the Malenotti to the streets of these places: the father of the current owners, Roberto, during the German bombing of World War II, took refuge in Via del Ronco, under the shelter of the walls that still surround the Boboli garden. Ancient and now lost works were practiced between Santo Spirito and via Romana: the great-grandparents were in fact coachmen and cigar makers. The rest of the story has always been linked to the daily life of the neighborhood, the only one in Florence that still i embodies the city's tradition and is wrapped in a popular atmosphere.

The artisan workshop

Piumaccio d'Oro

The Malenotti family has been involved in restoring and selling furniture and antiques since 1941. The name of the shop, Piumaccio d'Oro, is due to the nickname with which the founder Emilio Malenotti was known, who opened the shop about eighty years ago. This nickname comes from the skill with which Emilio used the feathers, or the tool to polish furniture. Emilio was also a painter who loved to paint and represent popular stories and characters from the "Oltrarno" district. An edition of the book "Pinocchio" with illustrations by Emilio and other artists is exhibited at the MoMA in New York.
The restoration workshop is located today in Borgo San Frediano, the main street of the homonymous and famous neighbourhood.
The artisan tradition has been handed down for four generations and remains a unique activity in Florence, so much that it has earned the certificate of "Florentine historical store".
All the furnishings of the B&B San Pier Novello come from the Piumaccio d'Oro and we will be happy to welcome our guests in the workshop to show them our work.


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