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The tragedy of the pandemic through the eyes of the nurses of the oldest hospital in the world: Santa Maria Nuova in Florence. He set them the goal of Massimo Sestini, the famous photojournalist who won the World Press Photo in 2015, and are exhibited in the exhibition “Indispensable nurses", Set up from today until the end of December in the corridor that overlooks the Cloister of the Magnolia, and can be visited, in compliance with current regulations, only by health professionals, patients and users of the hospital founded by Folco Portinari, Beatrice's father banker , the 'muse' of Dante Alighieri. A reportage in 34 large prints that tells the tragedy of the pandemic with the pace of the news and with the desire to restore an intimate and at the same time collective dimension of the Coronavirus emergency, in which the focal point is not those who suffer but those who help .


Due to the great significance of this live documentation of one of the most touching aspects of the pandemic, the exhibition is visible to all, in a multimedia edition, in the Sala D'Arme of Palazzo Vecchio created in co-production with the Municipality of Florence and in collaboration with MUS.e. All the images flow on the walls of the room in a highly immersive scenario that reflects the intensity of the shots made by Sestini. Produced in co-production with the Municipality of Florence, the exhibition, with free admission, is open to the public until 5 July, from Monday to Sunday (excluding Thursday), from 15-20.

The exhibition was born from the will of Santa Maria Nuova Onlus Foundation to document the precious work of the nursing staff on the occasion of the 732 years of life of the structure which is the oldest in the world still in operation. Within its walls, at the end of the thirteenth century, the Oblates gave birth to the first nucleus of nuns dedicated to the care of patients in the women's ward. Florence Nightingale, the founder of the modern nursing profession who was born in Florence exactly 200 years ago, was inspired by them. And still today, right here, three Oblate nuns play the role of "hospital".

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Three sections that make up the exhibition. The first, with 17 photos, is a real reportage in which the daily gestures of care and assistance of nurses are revealed in all sections of the hospital, from operating theaters to the most diverse departments including Covid departments. Part of this section is the image chosen to illustrate the exhibition poster: a shot of a nurse, wearing a protective suit and visor, holding a patient's hand with a sweet smile. The second section, shot in a studio, is made up of two horizontal photos, two meters by one meter each, which portray two groups of nurses and nurses with their faces covered by masks on a black background. Instead, the faces of the 15 individual portraits that make up the third section are uncovered.

No name, no caption to accompany the exhibition: the images speak for themselves, the author emphasizes, and need no explanation. They tell the story of life and death, physical fatigue and emotional load, the dedication and professionalism of a category that in these long months has shared the arduous task of facing the emergency with the medical one. To create the exhibition, Massimo Sestini, one of the most acclaimed contemporary photojournalists, spent five days and five nights in the Covid departments of Santa Maria Nuova.

«Patients call them angels - says the famous photographer - but being with them I realized that nurses are heroes, like doctors. They take risks and are always on the front line, in the surgical rooms as well as in the ward preparing a bed. They are very well prepared, dedicated and in love with their profession. For me it was a great honor to tell them, against the backdrop of a global drama like that of the Coronavirus ".

"The nurses were magnificent in managing the Covid emergency," comments Giancarlo Landini, president of the Santa Maria Nuova Onlus Foundation. “They worked side by side, together with doctors of different specialties, managing an impressive increase in pneumonia and respiratory failure. I can say that they wrote another memorable page of nursing, exactly 200 years after the birth of Florence Nightingale. In recent months our hospital has turned into a great sub-intensive therapy. Everyone has made huge sacrifices. And today I can say that Santa Maria Nuova has reacted well, thanks also to the presence of the Foundation and to the numerous aid that has arrived from the institutions and the city ».

«Let's reopen the Sala d'Arme» underlines the councilor for culture Tommaso Sacchi «with an exhibition of high social and symbolic value. The images that Massimo Sestini has been able to capture in the faces, in the gestures, in the wards that until a few weeks ago were at the center of a terrible spiral of disease and death know how to make us relive the pain just passed and reflect on a pandemic that has not yet been eradicated , and make us the power of the tireless and irreplaceable work of many health workers. This initiative is a dutiful tribute not to forget and the ideal embrace of the city all towards those who have given and continue to give soul, heart and professionalism to save many human lives ».

All the images of the exhibition are collections of the book "Indispensable" on sale today in bookstores, on the publisher Centro Di website, and in the bookshops of the Santa Maria Nuova Hospital and Palazzo Vecchio. The cost is € 25,00 and part of the proceeds are donated to charity to the Santa Maria Nuova Onlus Foundation.

The exhibition remains on display until December inside the health facility of Santa Maria Nuova and, until July 5, in a multimedia edition, in the Sala d'Arme of Palazzo Vecchio.

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