I have been asked to post photos of the ruota. The one I have posted is not a ruota meant for receiving abandoned baies. It can be found in the Certosa di Trisulta in Frosinone but it will give you the basic idea.
The other photo is of the offical ruota at the Hospital of Santo Spirito in Rome no longer in use today however there is a modern, heated version at one of the hospitals in Rome.  Even today there is complete anonymity for mothers of abandoned babies.


  1. Thank you for posting this. I have read Ange’s book and it gives a realistic view of life in Sicily and the part the ‘ruota’ played in the lives of the people.


  2. Interesting post, Ann. I’m intrigued by the ruota because it’s the maiden name for my great-grandmother. Her father was Giuseppe Ruota. I wonder if this surname means that he (or someone before him in the family) was an abandoned baby?


    • Ruota also means ‘wheel’ or ‘something’ that turns. While the surname could be refering to a trade or profession my gut feeling is that either Giuseppe or someone before him was abandoned in the ‘ruota’. The birth records for thsoe babies are interesting as they tell the details of their being found, the clothing they wore and if there was a note or personal item left with the child.


      • My cousin Carleen is currently again in Italy, and you two have worked together before.
        For all you’ve found, thank you! My question is this: our Nonna was put into a ruota by her own mother, so would bhere be birth records somewhere for our Nonna? Would these records tell who the father was (he is the missing link in our family, as I am sure you already know! Just wondering…Thanks!
        Ann Belliveau


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