Already in existence by 1277, the hospital presents a Brunelleschi inspired arcade. Completed between 1512 and 1517, it is decorated with medallions by Benedetto Buglioni and Giovanni della Robbia (1515-1529) and by the frieze with the Works of Mercy, consisting of seven polychrome-glazed terracotta panels. The first six scenes were executed by Santi Buglioni (1526-1529). The last, with its imperfect glaze, was carried out in 1583-1587 by Filippo Paladini. One panel represents pilgrims being welcomed.
From the 17th century, the Ospedale del Ceppo was also home to a medical-surgical school, evidence of which is found in the 18th-century anatomical theater located in the garden. The Ceppo’s monumental part, no longer in use, is nowadays the home of the Museum of the Spedale del Ceppo. The museum has a detailed section dedicated to the frieze and keeps an area devoted to the history of Pistoia healthcare. From here, one can also gain access to Pistoia Sotterranea, an underground tour that offers visitors a unique look at the city’s history.