As soon as you will finish to walk all around the square to discover all the sculptures that are part of the work of art by Giuseppe Grandi, get on the tram 9 and let it guide you along this endless tree-lined street.
You will reach Porta Venezia– or better Piazza Oberdan– where you will notice two square buildings surrounded on three sides by a colonnade.
They are the old toll booths (Page)- a place where those people who wanted to enter the city – either carrying goods or not – were asked to pay a duty. Indeed, these toll booths were linked to a gate marking the urban territory. This was the East Gate of the city – today known as Porta Venezia – planned by Piermarini who preferred to realize these two buildings instead of a real gate.
Now let’s go back to our toll booths: after being neglected for many many years – about 15 years ago – they were restored by the Associazione Panificatori Pasticceri ed Affini di Milano Monza Brianza e Province (Association of bakers and pastry chefs from Milan and its provinces) and designed as the place where to promote the “bread culture”. Just think that in the West Castle you can find a peculiar museum called “Small Bread Museum” where you can see 5 old machineries used to make bread and an itinerary by Accademia della Crusca, with some cards explaining the history of bread.
Still onboard tram 9 you can see lots of trees. You can spot the famous Indro Montanelli Public Gardens– that’s how Milanese call them for more than 200 years – which represent the first example of public park. Today, the sign at the entrance says: “Giardini Pubblici Indro Montanelli” named after the famous Milanese journalist who passed away about 15 years ago. Inside the park, you will find him while sitting , with his inseparable typewriter on his knees.
Now you’re close to Porta Venezia Bulwarks, but first let’s try to understand what they are and where they will lead us.
What does the word bulwarks mean?
The Italian word for bulwarks bastioni is the augmentative of the term bastìa i.e. a fortification made up of an embankment surrounded by huge retaining walls defining a polygonal shape… In a word, we are talking about Milan’s walls – or better – a part of them. Don’t dwell on all the extensions that these walls underwent over the years: from the Roman times to the Middle Ages to the Spanish rule… You must just know that the city changed according to the walls changes and that we can still see some ruins – even though they’re not enhanced enough.
For instance, look at this part, even its name has changed. Originally called Bastioni di San Dionigi because of a basilica that by now doesn’t exist anymore, then Bastioni di Porta Orientale and finally Bastioni di Porta Venezia in the days of the unity of Italy. As early as 300 years ago – under the Austrian rule – this street running along the park turned from a fortification into a beautiful public walk beloved by the Milanese, to finally become a terrible street for all those who take the wheel and arrive from Piazza della Repubblica, who have to proceed at a walking pace.
This is one of the widest squares in Italy… It was created to serve the former Milan railway station – when the tracks were closer to the city. Indeed, this district is called Isola (Island in English) because – with the passing of time – it was isolated by the railway surrounding it and the square was called Piazzale Stazione Centrale (Railway Station Square)!
Besides this buildings, manoxmano would like to show you an important monument/sculpture that has something to do with the Five Days of Milan. Look at the station, you will find it on the left of the square.
This marble and stone monuments represent the symbol of Italy Unification: indeed every sculpture represents a phase, up to Giuseppe Mazzini statue, realized by Giulio Monteverde in 1874 – 100 years before – and put here later.
The sculpture complex was designed by the Italian sculptor and painter Pietro Cascella and realized in 1974. You can’t see the sign anymore, by the way we would like to tell you something more about its concept in order to better understand it. It is conceived as an “open monument” i.e. a monument not to be admired or observed, rather to be explored: walk all around, in- and outside, up and down and be part of Cascella work! What do all these shapes represent?
A flower resembling a capital on a column, symbol of the Young Italy.
The barricades represent the fights during the Risorgimento.
The jellyfish is the symbol of the terror that subdued Italy during the foreigner domination.
A face hidden by the wall shadow represents the conspiracy.
Now, after a 10 minute walk, you will reach Piazza XXV aprile. Its name refers to another important Liberation, 100 after the aforementioned one!
Finally, always remember the importance of being free and that to be free you should first learn!
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