The former Sanatorio Climatico, currently known as the Ospedale “Cesare Zonchello” – named in this way in the memory of a talented doctor and scientist born in Sedilo in 1876 and dead due to Black Death in 1910, when he was only thirty-four years old, inside the lazaretto located in Abau Saud (Djeddàh) on the Red Sea - is an important example of the rationalist architecture of the Fascist Nuoro. Placed behind Biscolai hill, in Piazza Sardegna, and strongly done on purpose by the Red Cross (whose indispensable lands for the building were donated by the Municipality in 1931, which sold the structure later in 1936, to Istituto Nazionale Fascista della Previdenza Sociale), it was inaugurated on June, 7th, 1939 in the presence of Prince Umberto and his consort Maria José, during the same day where entrance ribbons were cut in two other buildings which, in their turn, strategically gathered public utility and social aggregation purposes: the Casa della Madre e del Bambino and the Casa della Gioventù Italiana del Littorio (GIL), both located in the near via Trieste. Since its opening, the hospital always had a very leading role in tuberculosis prevention and treatment - which was endemically and dramatically spread all over the Island, with very high rates, precisely in the province of Nuoro -, to the point of holding the national record together with Sondalo's one.
Aritzo, Fonni and Macomer areas were originally taken into account too, as possible headquarters for the building. Nuoro - whose province in 1930 revealed the sad record of the highest tuberculosis mortality rate all over Italy - ensured anyway a more central position, more than six hundred meters above sea level and with an excellent exposure to streams, while the green area - in which architect Ghino Venturi inserted his project - gave the chance to distribute all several blocks on misaligned floors inside the hospital complex: fourteen buildings indeed, isolated and independent ones but relating to each other thanks to a functional and hierarchic criteria, already successfully tested in other cities of the Peninsula (for example in Livorno, inside the hospital "Costanzo Ciano" built between 1929 and 1931). The convenience of the arrangement of separated pavilions allowed, first of all, to distinguish among the several roles of the hospital district: management, administration, hospital rooms and services seemed like detached from patients' edifices, in their turn differentiated by gender (which allowed privacy protection too); further, the small and elegant church was standing alone with annexed morgue, consecrated in 1938 and distinguished by a very high pronaos in the Doric style topped with a broken pediment and with an oculus for interior lighting.
Generally speaking, Venturi's choice seemed anti-decorative, focused on simplicity and essentiality of lines and volumes, confirming his research for plastic effects, already noticeable among his various projects of public housing carried on in Livorno during the 30's. In particular, the observation of pavilions - designated to sick patients - allows to appreciate the largeness of glass surfaces, a mandatory gimmick to ensure the two most important requirements of tuberculosis therapy: an excellent sun exposition and the best aeration. Beyond the presence of hospital rooms, treatment rooms, x-ray rooms and a laboratory for analysis and for clinical and experimental research, the Sanatorio was distinguished by some comfort and modernity elements such as the radiator heating and an innovative call system, replacing the traditional and noisy bells with more discreet warning lights. Moreover, in order to ensure the maximum cleanliness and sterilization of spaces and linen, the complex could also rely on the complete automation mechanisms of cleaning systems, washing and drying, both inside kitchens and rooms designated to be laundries and ironing rooms. Still today, moreover, the Hospital looks after vintage and antique equipments that witness the avant-garde role of the former sanatorium aid.
Inside the hospital, there was also a designated-library environment, provided with more than one thousand volumes and used by the hospital staff during the meetings. Moreover, to meet the long hospitalizations of sick patients, a particular and specific treatment was reserved to installations and sport, cultural and leisure equipments: they included a tennis court, two bowls courts, a space to project movies, several sitting rooms equipped with radio installations and board games and classrooms equipped with all the useful tools to develop mass courses of education for adults.
Not less important than the architectural complex, was the beautiful surrounding park, extending for around nine hectares and presenting several floral and herbaceous cultivations - more than three thousand, mainly concerning pines and eucalyptus trees (in addition to holm oaks, oaks and cedar trees). Here, on the occasion of the Easter holidays, the Good Friday procession and solemn holiday celebrations took place, with the active participation of the patient community, in front of their families and the highest authorities. To confirm the value - also a symbolic one - of this green area, exactly in the middle of a grassy cone of land, higher than one meter, clearly visible already in the distance along the main driveway, Costantino Nivola's work has been placed there, titled "Madre" and donated by the ASL on March, 8th, 2012, as the first moment of the company design named "Pietre d’autore”; the white marbled sculpture is a gift to the value of life and the generating power of women, beyond a cross reference to art solace inside a delicate context, such as the hospital one.
During the decades, the former sanatorium underwent several organizational and administrative modifications, preserving its specialization in the diagnosis and treatment of respiratory diseases. In 1968, the aid has become an Ente Ospedaliero and it has been ranked as Ospedale Specializzato Provinciale to treat lung diseases. Ten years after, the body dissolved and the aid merged with USL N.7 in Nuoro, before belonging to ASL in 1995. On March, 25th and 26tth, 2017, all the hospital spaces have become the main characters - with a great success and audience - of the Giornate FAI di Primavera, organized by Fondo Ambientale Italiano.
- Masala, Architettura dall’Unità d’Italia alla fine del ‘900, Nuoro, ILISSO, 2001;
- Carcassi, M. Cualbu, M.C. Dessì, Il San Francesco ed il Cesare Zonchello: ospedali di Nuoro: cronaca e storia, Nuoro, Grafiche editoriali Solinas, 2005.