For the majority of my time in Florence, it has unfortunately rained and today was absolutely no exception. Despite the horrible weather, I was determined to see this famous library!
Unsure why the Oblate is so famous? Back in the late 1200s, what would later be known as Florence’s most important hospital was built on these grounds. Folco Portinari founded said hospital and is thought to have done so to make amends for his sins. As his nurse, Monna Tessa, who was devoted to helping and caring for sick people, had an influence in the creation of the hospital.
Monna Tessa formed a community of nurses under the name ‘Oblate‘ who, from the day it opened, became the hospital’s nurses and assistants.
A few years after the creation of the hospital, a convent dedicated to treating sick women was formed.
With the help of my incredible sense of direction (aka Google Maps) I was able to find the Oblate! I strolled through the beautiful outdoor garden to find the entrance and was then faced my next issue – where was I supposed to go from there? To my left was the children’s library (which I definitely had a look through to find some childhood favourites – everyone remembers the High School Musical book with the pictures from the film in it right?). As exciting as my walk down memory lane was, that’s not why I was there; I was at that library to work!
My aim whilst in Florence is to minimise how often I look like a lost tourist so with that mentality, I confidently strutted my way past the reception desk and through to the next part of the library which was great because I found a sign but actually not much help because it was all in Italian!
But still, I didn’t let that break my stride!
I admired the beautiful outdoor gardens situated in the middle of the building. As I did so, I stumbled upon a section with information on local history and modern newspapers that documented world news as well as local. I also made a mental note to go back there if I ever found my way back.
Whilst ensuring my poker face was still at its best, I managed to find stairs to the 1st floor. ‘SUCCESS!’ was the only thought crossing my mind. What I didn’t realize was that I was about to spend the next 5 minutes walking around in a square and end up in the exact same place. The entire building is a square shape and I’d forgotten where I started and which stairs would lead me up to the next floor. This is the point in which I stopped looking so self-satisfied and revealed my true colours – I was a lost tourist!
I wasn’t ready to admit it so I took this opportunity to wander and get to know the place! I found exactly what I was expecting – books: shelves and shelves of well-read books stacked beautifully in typical library fashion.
As well as this, I saw many indoor and outdoor work stations, including a computer area (in which all the computers do have access to the internet – hurray for the Internet generation!).
During all my peeping, I found not just one but two flights of stairs and the toilets. It didn’t take long for that over-confident, I’m-not-a-lost-tourist face to resurface!
My smugness turned to astonishment by the time I got to the 2nd floor. The view is so breath-taking – it’s definitely unlike any library you ever would have seen. It looks more like a rooftop of a trendy club! I continued to explore and came across a café with indoor and outdoor seating as well as more work stations.
However, they are no indoor work stations on the 2nd floor so unless you plan on getting frostbite, those seats are enjoyed more when sunny! Unless you’re anything like me and just want to enjoy the view no matter the weather! The biggest surprise came when I’d sat down with my fresh fruit milkshake and found plug sockets. Plug sockets outside!! A few freezing hours and milkshake stains later, I decided to call it a day but not before winding down with a nice book in the gardens outside the entrance.
Being a student in an unknown place can be extremely difficult which is why I would definitely recommend doing your studies at this library when you need a place to work. The tranquillity of it is enough to calm anyone to work and the upbeat nature of the bar area is perfect for letting your hair down!
The library really is unlike any library I’ve been to in London. Its history gives it an antique feel which is beautifully complimented with the modernisation of the rooftop bar and café. You’d never find that in a South East London; nobody would ever get any work done!
The other students are lovely there too! You won’t find a single person doing anything that would distract you from your work in the indoor stations. On the rooftop, everyone is friendly and the chattering and the laughter is far from disruptive!
Well once again, www.studentsVille.it has not steered me wrong and I thoroughly enjoyed yet another one of their recommended places and you definitely will too!
Articles & Pictures by Anita Lofinmakin* (Bromley College, UK)
*A few lines about Anita?
“A is for Adventurous
N is for Nosey
I is for Imaginative
T is for Talkative
A is for Amazing!”