On the road from Florence to the Upper Valdarno and Arezzo, through the pass of San Donato in Collina, near the ancient spring called Fonte Viva, we find the medieval building complex of Bigallo. The Hospital of Bigallo, a stopping place for travelers and pilgrims, was founded around 1214 by Dioticidiede di Buonaguida del Dado. In 1245 it was acquired by a religious confraternity that took the name of “Compagnia del Bigallo”.
In the late15th century the Hospital was occupied by nuns coming from the cloistered Convent of Casignano. Since the nuns lived in seclusion, the two sections (Hospital and Monastery) were divided and the garden was enclosed and converted into a cloister. The activity of assisting pilgrims lasted until 1754, and it is only recently that a part of the building, belonging to the Municipality, has become a hostel once more.
In the large refectory with its pulpit, now used as a convention hall, a door gives access to an imposing kitchen, whose design dates from 1523. Especially noteworthy are the fireplace framed by slender columns and the sink with three basins hollowed out of sandstone slabs. On the upper floor is the hostel, its rooms arranged as in a medieval “Spedale”, or hospital.