Bigallo Audience Hall

The Sala d’Audienza, or audience hall, functioned as the nexus of the Company of the Misericordia’s charitable actions on the Piazza San Giovanni.

The entry for the Bigallo in the Rustici Codex, which shows the building and two examples of the services provided by the Misericordia, includes a detail of the audience hall. Visible at the far end of the hall, a staircase provides access to the organization’s second-story administrative and residential rooms. Hidden from view and to the left would be a doorway leading to the loggia’s chapel, while the doorway on view to the right leads to

The wide opening of the hall allowed the memebers of the Company to administer to the poor and needy, including the provision of dowries for young women and the reunification of children with their mothers, both attested by the Rustici illustration and the displaced fresco originally located on the facade above the audience hall. The painting of Tobias and his father, patrons of the Misericordia, shows the building in active use, with beggars seated on the loggia’s steps and beneficiaries stepping out of the shadowed audience hall.

Tobias and His Father

Although successive renovations over the course of centuries have altered the original layout of the audience hall and obscured it from view with a new facade, the basic structure remains intelligible to this day.