✺ Why are there two holes on that column?
Have you ever visited the Basilica of Sant’Ambrogio? You don’t need to enter, just stop in the square outside and look for a column… waiting to go there, you can read what we have to tell you here.
It is said that the two holes on the column are a mark leaved by the devils’ horns: he was stuck there for two days while fighting with Sant’Ambrogio until he freed himself – after struggling for a while – and went back to hell… It is also said that if you get closer to the holes you will be able to smell an acrid sulphur stink and if you put your ears close to them you will hear shouts from hell… Furthermore, if you put your fingers within the holes you will be in luck! Try it, you will always need a few luck!
(Taken from the itinerary “The district of traditions: from Sant’Ambrogio to Obej-Obej” by manoxmano)
✺ Why people didn’t get infected of plague in the Via Laghetto area?
It’s said that in Via Laghetto 2 lived a witch, the most frightful witch. Her name was Arima!
At night, she organized parties and banquets, prepared potions, danced on the top of the roofs with her disciples and then flew to Piazza della Vetra! This area had a bad reputation too, due both to its inhabitants and to its decay, filth and smell you could perceive just by passing by… People kept quite far away from these places saying a lot of bad and supernatural secrets were hidden here, whilst there actually was only filth and poverty. When the plague reached Milan, the city found itself to be in a bad situation… The Black Death was spreading very quickly but around Via Laghetto area, no one, neither man nor woman was infected. Not finding an explanation to this, people started thinking the witches were keeping the disease away with their magic. Actually, the truth is different.
There was a little port there, plenty of big ships carrying blocks of marble. This material was unloaded, cut and moved to the Duomo that at the time was being built. Marble dust settled everywhere especially on the skin of the people, making them immune to flea attacks that, at the time, brought the plague around… Secret unveiled. It was very simple, wasn’t it? So, as they say do not judge a book from its cover… Don’t judge too quickly someone you do not know… Most of the time there is an explanation, you just need to look for it!
(Taken from the itinerary “Witches in Milan” by manoxmano)
✺ Why it is said that the Devil lived in Corso di Porta Romana 3?
The legend has it that about 400 years ago the marquise Acerbi, did not care about the pandemic plague and continued organize great parties in his palace. Every time he went out, he went around the city in a black carriage pulled by six black horses and followed by sixteen bodyguards wearing a golden and green livery… What a spooky person! Those people who crossed the streets at night saw nothing but great piles of dead people everywhere, but if they went closer to the Acerbi palace, they only heard music and laughter coming from the main hall where the marquise invited all the nobles of the city to have fun and enjoy themselves – careless about the plague… Pay attention, no one, neither the marquise nor his guests ever got infected! This is the reason why Ludovico Acerbi was called the Devil… Both because of his behaviour and due to the mystery that his house held, where it seemed misfortunes could not enter!
(Taken from the itinerary “Through the scary ways” by manoxmano)
✺ Why all those monsters on a church?
As all the other great constructions, the Duomo has its own legend as well. It is a bit frightful, do you want to hear it?
Legend has it that on a winters’ night, the duke of Milan Gian Galeazzo Visconti laid in his comfy bed and the Devil appeared in his dream! Help! The Devil told him that if he wouldn’t be dragged to hell, he would immediately (right from the day after) have to start building a huge cathedral full with images of the evil spirits! Gian Galeazzo promised and the Devil disappeared.
The day after the duke called before him all his engineers and architects and told them his plan… They had to keep in mind two main things: the cathedral should have been magnificent and full of Devil representations… Nowadays, you can admire – a bit scared – 100 gargoyles made in the likeness of Satan… Do you know what a gargoyle is? It’s a big opening connected to a channel that drains water from roofs and terraces. In ancient times, before the advent of copper pipes, gargoyles used to be made in the likeness of monsters to keep evil spirits away! Therefore don’t be afraid, these sinister figures should make you feel safe, not in danger!
(Taken from “Duomo of Milan” by manoxmano)
✺ Why is there a giant needle in front of the station?
The giant steel needle (almost 20m high) – with its multicoloured thread emerging from the street with its final knot a little further on – was meant to embody Milan industriousness and refers to the fashion world with Milan being at its core. It was also meant to recall a train passing by an underground tunnel, paying homage to the tube and its three-colour lines – red, green and yellow… Who knows! One day maybe we will see a purple thread and a blue thread coming out as well!
(Taken from the itinerary “Tram 1 – From the Central Station to Arco della Pace” by manoxmano)
✺ Why the horses are turned towards the park?
Have you ever seen the Arco della Pace? It’s all made up of marble and on the top – at a height of 25 metres – you can see 10 horses… It took 7 years to make them: four are on the sides of the arch (two per side) and the other six are pulling “Peace” (a female figure) that triumphant, enters the city!
It is said that originally the horses were created to be turned and placed to one side, but the Austrians (dominating the city two hundred years ago), in order to humiliate the French, decided to rotate them 180 degrees, as you see them today… It took 300 workers with strong ropes to pull the horses up and place them there, we just hope that the decision to rotate the horses wasn’t taken whilst the workers were lifting them!
(Taken from the itinerary “Sempione Park” by manoxmano)
✺ This bridge has always been here?
If you’ve ever been at Sempione Park, you surely saw a cute little bridge that everyone calls “Ponte delle Sirenette”, even if it’s more famous with the name of “Ponte of Ghisini’s sisters”. This name refers to the fact that it was made out of cast iron (“ghisa” in Italian language). But pay attention, this bridge hasn’t always been here in the park!
A long time ago, when it was called the bridge of lovers, it links the two shores of the city Canals, along the Cerchia dei Navigli. Then, when these streets have been covered and asphalted, this dear bridge was dismantled and reassembled here, in Sempione Park, where you can now admire it!
(Taken from the itinerary “On the bus 94 along the Navigli (Canals) that used to be” by manoxmano)
✺ Who was Mr. Marino?
Right in front of the Teatro alla Scala you can see an important building – now hosting the headquarters of Milan mayor and deputy major… and obviously all the other people who work with them! This is Palazzo Marino! It’s named after its old owner, a Genoese count, Tommaso Marino. A clever and unscrupulous businessman that lived about 500 years ago: after saving a huge fortune he decided to build a home worth of his wealth.
He spared no expense and, after demolishing the old houses on that area, he started building his home.
Unfortunately his home wasn’t completed, even though he lived until the age of 100! This is because the Milanese did not like him very much because he was a sly and dishonest man, and to get their revenge they cursed the building under construction with these words: “this heap of stones, fruits of a lot of robberies, will burn or become derelict or will be stolen by another thief”. The count died without money and without seeing his building fully finished, which was seized by the Spanish government and then by the Austrian one… Risking to burn under the Second World War bombings!
(Taken from “Palazzo Marino” by manoxmano)