The author first reviews all the significant steps in the legislation, that followed the 1978 law on psychiatric care, which set in motion the processes which closed Italian mental hospitals and had a strong impact on them, with their abandonment and decay. The terms of the legislation helped make the debate and the means of their reuse complex, which is described briefly here for mental hospitals in the central northern and north eastern Italy, with rapid identification of the most evident failings with regard to their protection and use. The paper also gives a very brief summary of some of the solutions adopted locally to integrate these ‘citadels of mental care’ into their urban contexts, looking at a variety of cases with results ranging from a certain degree of quality and even excellence to episodes of serious neglect. The examples also highlight the most urgent issues with regard to a definition of the framework for the recovery of the mental hospitals analysed.
Keywords: Psychiatric hospital ; reuse; valorisation