(Click on an photo to see a slightly larger, much clearer image.)

Rapallo has a new hospital, an eerie place because, the two times I’ve been there, it has seemed almost empty of people. I’m accustomed to thinking of hospitals as over-crowded bustling places, but this one isn’t, at least not yet. A beautiful structure in the modern idiom, here is what it looks like from the street:

Evidently it’s one of the few places in Italy where dogs are not welcome. This fellow was singin’ the blues:

In the foyer of the building you can examine a replica of the ikon from Montallegro – the hospital’s full name is Ospedale di Rapallo N.S. di Montallegro (N.S. means Nostra Signora, Our Lady).

Once past the corridor with the very large and well-appointed gift shop you find yourself in a large interior courtyard, from which you choose to go to either pavilion A or B:

The courtyard contains a large cafeteria, closed the days I was there, and  even a play area for kids:

I was eager to ride in these elevators, but my business was in the other pavilion where the elevators are the more prosaic hidden variety:

In Italy you pay ‘a ticket’ for medical attention – not always, but frequently. For instance, I went to the hospital for a rather run-of-the-mill test, for which I was charged € 25. If I had not already paid the ticket when I made the appointment at the health services office, I could have paid at the machine on the right. No ticket, no test. If you’re short of cash there is a bancomat (ATM) right there on the left.

This is what the roof of the central courtyard looks like from above (I was on the third floor):

And this is the spookily empty cardio corridor:

There was a handful of people awaiting their tests in an interior waiting room, but no one had to wait more than 10 or 15 minutes, which I think must be some kind of record. When I returned the next day for the second part of my test I didn’t even have time to get my rump in a chair before I was called back to the examining room.

The hospital was constructed over a period of five years at a cost  € 43.9 million, most of which was paid for by the Region of Liguria.  Ours is a region of old folks – 27% of us are ‘vecchi’ – and the hospital has been assigned specialties accordingly: orthopedics (need a hip?) and eyes (how are those cataracts?).  In addition there is a cardiac rehabilitation center and a dialysis unit.  The hospital has 140 beds.

I’m sure this lovely hospital is getting much more use than I saw on my two brief visits, and I’m sure usage will increase over time… if only because, as my friend A. says, they serve the best cup of cafe in Rapallo (when the cafeteria is open, that is)!