A new life for Sant’Orsola

Cultural center planned for the ex-monastery

Samantha Vaughn
August 17, 2017 - 14:02

The City of Florence has announced plans to renovate and reopen the ex-monastery of Sant’Orsola, in the San Lorenzo neighbourhood. The long-boarded up space, which dates to the early 14th century, came back into the limelight when the possible tomb of Lisa Gherardini, better known as Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, was found in the complex in 2012. Since then, efforts have been renewed to revalorize the building and open it back up to the public.


The project put forth by Property Finance e Partners SPA has recently been selected as the top choice by the technical committee and is currently awaiting approval from the Superintendency for Architectural Heritage and Landscape. The company’s proposal includes the creation of the Monna Lisa Museum, the “Bocelli Academy Music School,” a game room, a “wine loft and music stage,” a “Creativity School,” an incubator and a parking garage. The renovation is predicted to last six years before the space can open to the public.


The museum will recount the ex-monastery’s history, focusing as well on the archeological digs and traces of Lisa Gherardini within the complex. The dig sites will be covered with glass flooring so visitors can get a close-up look at what’s lies below the site. The music school will offer continuing education courses and will be run by Andrea Bocelli, one of Italy’s most popular musicians, and the professionals he often collaborates with; the “Creativity School” will promote the development of artisan craftsmanship; and guest rooms will be available for short and mid-length stays for anyone participating in the educational courses on offer.


Sant’Orsola hopes to be a center of community life through the inclusion of a game room for children, a reading room, a bookshop, a coffee lab, the “Monnalisa” restaurant and other spaces dedicated to cultural activities and events. Urban gardens are also planned for the internal courtyards, which will host these cultural events, as well as contemporary art installations.

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