Tag Archives: milano

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the legend has taken hold that no building in the city may be taller than the Madonnina, lest her divine protection be withdrawn.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.

Exclusivity Italian Style

Duomo di Milano

Duomo di Milano

So, what comes to your mind when you hear Gucci and Ferragamo? Furla and Armani? Yes, Italian fashion, elegance, exclusivity…and expensive, of course. Well, I wish to share with you a little story about what Italian exclusivity REALLY is. Every word of it is true.

I was in Milano several years ago and happened to mention to the Milanese friends with whom I was staying that I was looking for a particular gift for a friend back in the States. I wanted something elegantly Italian, for the home, perhaps a silver serving platter, or similar. Not to worry, said my Milanese friends, we know exactly where to take you, and we know you will find exactly what you want. We’ll go tomorrow, first thing.

The next day we took a taxi to a certain square and walked to a certain address. We were in an upscale residential area, with no indication whatsoever of any commercial activity within sight. But my friends were sure: unhesitatingly they walked me to the portone of a stately palazzo, and rang the bell for a particular apartment. There was no clue to identify the establishment we were interested in.

A matter-of-fact voice poured out of the citofono, wanting us to identify ourselves and state our business there. My friend spoke, giving his name and adding he was bringing a friend (me!), who wished to see the display. He also apologized for disturbing their tranquility, and expressed a hope that we were not inconveniencing them TOO much, and that we could come back some other time if that was more convenient. At this we heard the click of the portone opening and we went in directly.