History of a city – Birth of Milan between myth and history

A walk hovering between legend and reality, dedicated to the discovery of the birth of Milan. Departure: Piazza Duomo, a sacred place of worship, since ancient times. Arrival: Piazza San Sepolcro, where there used to be a sumptuous forum in Roman times. 
History of a city – Birth of Milan between myth and history
1. Piazza Duomo. The sacred wood
 
From sacred circle to centre of Christianity. Two thousand years of history and devotion, in a few steps!
 
There was a beautiful forest between Piazza Scala and the area where now stands the Dome in the Sixth Century and that became sacred when it was dedicated to the Celtic goddess Belisama, protector of fire, to whom one of the many legends is connected on the birth of Midland, that was renamed Mediolanum by the Romans.
 
2. Piazza dei Mercanti. The first village
 
In search of the origins, from the Celtic furrow to the first tracks of Roman roads.
 
It seems that the first stone of Milan, or rather, the first hut built on stilts was placed right here, in an unspecified location between Piazza dei Mercanti and Piazza San Sepolcro by Belloveso, an intrepid Gallic prince. On this axis, a few centuries later, was the Cardo of Roman Mediolanum.
 
3. Via dei Mercanti. The “scrofa semilanuta”
 
The hidden clue hunt, in the most visible monument of the city! 
 
Few know that on the springer of one of the arches of Palazzo della Ragione, there is a curious Roman period bas-relief depicting a sow. Legend has it that this amusing animal, known as the scrofa semilanuta (“half-woollen sow”), is linked to the myth of the birth of Milan. A white sow was also the animal symbol of goddess Belisama. Try to find it!
 
4. Piazza Affari. The Roman theatre 
 
Imagining the imperial city, in the shadow of the theatre that is not there.
 
A majestic theatre in the impressive Piazza Affari (the Milan Stock Exchange), before it was ruined by the numerous sacks, the most tragic of which was that of Frederick Barbarossa in 1162. The oldest public building of the Roman city could hold up to 8,000 spectators and was used for theatre plays, games, parties and meetings.
 
 
5. Via Brisa. The imperial palazzo
 
For a hundred things you lose, you find one. Which means that every disadvantage has an advantage!
 
The bombs of 1943 destroyed part of the historic centre of the city, but also allowed surprising discoveries. One of these is in via Brisa where a portion, a circular room probably for representatives, of the imperial palazzo built by Maximian came to light after a bombing.
 
 
6. Via Bernardino Luini. The massimianeo circus
 
Panem et circenses! To the discovery of the Mediolanum circus.
 
The Circus and the southern section of the walls, both built by will of Emperor Maximilian, were located, in the Third Century AD, where today is the Monastero Maggiore of San Maurizio and the Archaeological Museum. The circus tower is still visible, transformed into a bell tower and, inside the museum, is the polygonal tower of the walls, that is now a chapel.
 
7. Via Morigi 2. Mosaics “en plein air” 
 
The most interesting are at the Archaeological Museum, where the famous Trivulzio cup is  also preserved. 
 
At street number 2, protected by a railing, it is possible to admire the remains of a floor mosaic of the First Century AD, unearthed during the construction of the building, set in the atrium. Simple, with geometric decorations of black and white tiles, it is worth a look thanks to the excellent state of preservation.
 
8. Via Bagnera. The narrowest street of Milan brings back memories… 
 
The Imperial Palace in Milan, a complex that extended from what is today Corso Magenta to Via Nerino.
 
One of the narrowest streets of the city, it owes its name to the emperor baths, a spa complex that used to be here, between Santa Marta and Via Nerino. In 1860, the narrow street gained fame with headlines on the crime pages for the horrific Boggia case, known as the monster of Bagnera.
 
9. San Giorgio al Palazzo. The Edict of Milan in 313 
 
Milan at the dawn of Christianity, when Constantine the Great changed the empire forever. 
 
Not all know or remember that, more or less, where the Church stands today, Constantine the Great pulling a recalcitrant Licinius by the hair, signed the Edict of Milan, in 313 AD, by which the freedom of worship of the Christian religion was proclaimed. Inside the church there is a plaque commemorating the event.
 
10. Piazza San Sepolcro. The centre of public life

Imagination will help us reconstruct the Roman Forum, the centre of the political, administrative and commercial life of the city.

A small portion of the imposing Roman forum is visible today in the basement of the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana. Built in the Augustan age, the forum used to be in the area between Piazza San Sepolcro and the Armorari and Spadari streets, at the intersection of the cardo and the decumanus, flanked on the long sides by lively shops. Recently, the charming medieval crypt of the church of San Sepolcro wasreopened on March 19th, fifty years since its closing. The floor is made of ancient slabs of pink marble of Verona that covered the entire forum square (for a visit, consult the website http://www.criptasansepolcromilano.it/)

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