The Ancient Serristori Pharmacy at Figline e Incisa Valdarno

Built to give shelter to the poor and the sick, the Hospital of SS. Annunziata at Figline was founded by Ser Ristoro di Jacopo Serristori in 1399. The Serristori Hospital grew up in the town centre of Figline and occupied one side of the Piazza Ficino of today, until 1890, when it was transferred outside the town to the Villa of San Cerbone, where the Ancient Pharmacy can still be found.

In 1399 the Florentine painter Giovanni di Tano Fei carried out a polyptych (since dismantled), among other works, for the new Hospital; according to the 16th century Hospital inventories it was placed above the altar in the chapel. The centre part portraying the Madonna and Child and Angels is still preserved in the rooms of the Pharmacy, while the side elements, with Sts. James the Greater and John the Baptist and Sts. Andrew and Anthony Abbot, are now in private collections. The Annunciation by the painter Ludovico Cardi known as Cigoli (1559-1613), of around 1580, can still be found in the Hospital chapel and is one of the many works carried out for the various rooms in the institution.

The ancient pharmacy was created inside the Hospital in the first half of the 16th century and renewed in 1724; some of its 16th century furnishings still survive (chests of drawers and shelves), together with other elements added in the 18th century and when the Hospital was transferred. The exhibits include 15th to 19th century materials in ceramics and glass and ancient portraits.

According to its oldest inventories, the Hospital bought its general supplies from the potteries of Figline, Impruneta and also Deruta; however most of the series of 16th and 17th century majolica vases that survive come from Montelupo. The objects in glass were commissioned from local craftsmen (known as “bicchierai” or glass makers), while more refined glassware was imported from Venice. A great many 17th-18th century officinal vases in glass in various sizes have survived; many still contain residues of the medicinal materials and chemical compounds written on the labels and printed in the 19th century calligraphy (known as “polizzini”). It is not easy to identify where these were produced though most of them appear to be of Tuscan origin.

 

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