La Madonnina di Milano

Madonnina di Milano, high above the city, on one of the spires of the Duomo.

Madonnina di Milano

High above the rooftops of Milano, on the highest spire of the Duomo, arms outstretched to invoke divine benediction upon Her beloved city, there stands La Madonnina, the Little Madonna. But not so little, really: She stands over four meters tall, in radiant golden brass, representing the Madonna of The Assumption. She has stood there, on her guglia 108 meters above the square, for 240 years, and in that time the legend has taken hold that no building in the city may be taller than the Madonnina, lest her divine protection be withdrawn.

The legend, eventually inserted into the law books, served to keep the height of any new building below the canonical 108 meters until the advent of the Pirellone (~1960), which stands about 127 meters. But to make the new building palatable to the Milanese a new Madonnina had to be constructed and placed on the highest point of the Pirellone . And now the precedent had been set: Palazzo Lombardia, taller than the Pirellone, was built in 2004, adorned with yet another copy of the Madonnina, which must forever occupy the highest point of the city, to best watch over her.

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