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

However, the inauguration of the structure faced delays due to the outbreak of the Second World War. Throughout the war, the sanatorium served as a refuge for priceless artworks from various museums. Subsequently, it functioned as a hospital for retreating German forces. Only after the war’s conclusion, when the paintings that had escaped Nazi raids and Allied bombings were safely returned, did the Morelli village fulfill its intended purpose.

For decades, the Alpine air facilitated the recovery of tuberculosis patients from around the world. The hospital boasted a maximum capacity of 2500 beds.

Cable car system

Initially, during the early days of the sanatorium, the kitchens in the administration building prepared all meals. These meals were then distributed via a cable system from the building’s roof deck. After some time, the central meal distribution was discontinued. However, the system persisted for other purposes, such as supplying medical goods, food, and facilitating linen changes and cleaning. Dirty linens were transported to the service building by truck, while clean linens were returned via cable cars.

Following the eradication of tuberculosis, thanks to the discovery of antibiotics, the village lost its significance. Beginning in 1971, the transition to a general hospital commenced. Eventually, in the 1990s, the hospital was shut down and abandoned. I personally explored the forsaken 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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