Villaggio Sanatoriale Eugenio Morelli

An abandoned SANATORIUM in

The construction works for what will become the largest sanatorium village in Europe began in 1932 and in just six years the first nine pavilions were built by the architect Giuseppe Ramponi. The hospital implemented the medical-scientific theories of Dr. Ausonio Zubiani. For this reason, the buildings have large windows and open spaces, for the entry of sunlight. It also increased the recirculation of air. According to the medical knowledge of the time, that favored the healing of tuberculosis patients.

The Morelli hospital stands in the town of Sondalo, in the province of Sondrio, at the foot of Mount Sortenna and in the heart of the pine forest of the same name.

Second World War

The Morelli sanatorium village was completed in 1939. The inauguration of the structure, however, was delayed by the outbreak of the Second World War. During the war, the sanatorium served as a hiding place for important works of art from several museums. Later, it was also used as a hospital for retreating Germans. Only after the end of the war, once the paintings that had escaped the Nazi raids and Allied bombs had been returned safely, did the Morelli village finally begin to carry out the function for which it was build.

For decades, many people have been cured of tuberculosis thanks to the Alpine air. Patients from all over the world were treated here, the hospital had a maximum capacity of 2500 beds.

Cable car system

The small village had many identical pavilions. Each pavilion relied on the administration building’s allocation of goods. The administration building housed kitchens, the warehouse, and laundry service. A cable car system connected the administration to all nine pavilions. In the beginning of the sanatorium’s life, all meals were cooked in the kitchens of the administration building and distributed via cable from the roof deck of the building. After a few years, the central distribution for meals was abandoned. The system continued to be used for the distribution of medical goods, food supplies and the change and cleaning of linens. Dirty linens were transferred to the service building by truck, and the clean linens were sent back on the cable cars.

Once tuberculosis was eradicated, thanks to the discovery of antibiotics, the village lost its importance. Starting from 1971, the transition to a general hospital was made. Eventually, during the 1990s, the hospital was closed and abandoned. I visited the abandoned complex in 2014.

The Covid-19 pandemic was a reason to reopen the hospital. In 2020 the Morelli hospital was converted into a specialized Covid-19 Hospital. Today the hospital serves as an institute for high surgical specialties, such as neurosurgery, vascular surgery and thoracic surgery. There is also a nice museum covering the history of the complex.

Built 1939
Abandoned 1998
Reconverte 2020
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