The kindergarten and the orphanage
Gaetano had no children. That may be one of the reasons why he dedicated himself to the less fortunate children. He started by managing an all-female school which helped poor girls. Here, girls would learn how to read and write as well as weaving and sewing. He then ventured in starting a kindergarten, the first one in Tuscany. Then, in 1837, he opened an orphanage for boys. The boys were thus taken off the streets, sent to school and taught a trade. They were given hope for a better future. A grand project which grew over time, and was carried out with a lot of effort and dedication. The printmakers, weavers and carpenters were among the best you could find, to the point that the institute was dubbed the “Technological Orphanage”, because the students would develop such advanced skills in this orphanage/workshop.
Without Magnolfi’s dedication and generosity, Prato would not probably have become what it is. The boys from his orphanage were the very bricks with which the city was built. Skilled and productive craftsmen. And telling stories like Magnolfi’s always gives me goosebumps because real, disinterested kindness is a rare, heartwarming quality.
The Magnolfi Orphanage does not exist anymore, but the building has been restored and are now home to the Magnolfi Nuovo (The New Magnolfi), a small theater and youth hostel. If you wish to get to know Prato better, we suggest you spend the night there, where the story of such an important man is preserved and passed on to future generations. This is also a good way to keep his memory alive. Magnolfi nuovo
The photo of the typography department of the Magnolfi Orphanage was taken from the book, ‘I luoghi storici della produzione nel pratese’ di Giuseppe Guanci
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