What’s on this ornate Milan Cathedral door? Milan’s role in a turning point in early Christian history. Constantine the Great’s famous Edict of Milan, and how Europe became Christian.

Here on one of the doors of Milan Cathedral at the central Piazza del Duomo, on the left panel, you will see a depiction of a seated Emperor Constantine the Great, holding a document in his hand, and next to the human figures is some of the text of that document he is holding. The document here is the famous 313 AD Edict of Milan, that – instead of persecuting Christians – finally legitimized Christianity in the Empire; drafted and promulgated by the Emperor who would go on to become the very first Christian Emperor of the Roman Empire.


Emperor Constantine is depicted seated on the left panel of this ornate door of the Duomo di Milano – with the Edict of Milan in his hand. Image Credit: Bianca Cadore

Did you know there was one earlier Roman Emperor in 286 AD – who was the first to formally divide the Eastern Empire from the Western – made Milan, not Rome, the capital of the Western Empire.

After subsequent turmoil in the Empire, one warring Roman leader, Constantine, in 312 AD, crossed from Gaul (in France) and subdued Milan, then marched on Rome to unify the Empire.

Prior to the decisive Battle of Milvian Bridge, just outside the limits of Rome, Constantine had a moment of epiphany and saw a certain symbol of Jesus Christ in the sky. He then commanded that his soldiers bear this symbol on their shields, and the next day they won the battle and marched victorious into Rome.

The next year in Milan, Constantine issued the Edict of Milan.

For the symbol that Constantine saw in the sky above Rome and other details of this history of Milan, click to see how “The Edict of Milan, changed the history of Christianity and Europe forever, written in the capital of the Western Roman Empire, by the eventual first Christian Emperor, Constantine the Great“.

Constantine would soon after become a Christian himself, although he is said to have only been baptized on his deathbed by Bishop Eusebius of Nicomedia.

Subsequently, his newly designated capital of the Empire, Constantinople, would bear his name – which survives to this day as Istanbul. Within several decades after the passing of Constantine, Christianity would become the official state religion of the Roman Empire.


Constantinople was made the central capital of the Roman Empire in 330 AD  by Emperor Constantine. To commemorate his grand decision, he built this Column of Constantine that stood in the middle of the large new circular Forum of Constantine, meant to be the new centre of the new capital. Image Credit: This reconstruction graphic at Archaiognomon @ Ellinondiktyo



Photo of the Column of Constantine in Istanbul 2011 (named the Çemberlitaş Sütunu in Turkish), more than 1,600 years after it was erected by Constantine to commemorate the designation of Constantinople as the capital of the Roman Empire in 330 AD. Image Credit: Ismail Yaşartekin. See its map location there on its Panoramio.com link.


Culture for free! For this weekend’s free event, see the map of Milan properties open to the public – without getting the app. Historical & cultural properties around Italy open their doors – organized by the National Trust of Italy; it’s FAI Spring Day, Giornate FAI di Primavera

This weekend get ready for the great annual FAI Spring Day – actually the two days of the weekend – where many cultural properties open their doors… for free!

The Fondo Ambiente Italiano is more commonly known in English as the Italian National Trust. Their biggest annual drive is their Giornate FAI di Primavera, where FAI arranges for thousands of historical and cultural places around Italy to be open for free – this year on March 19 – 20.


The restored Royal Pavilion, which was, as the name suggests, designed for the needs of the royal Savoy family in 1931 – part of Milano Centrale railway station, open for FAI Spring Day this weekend. Image Credit: Grandistazioni.it

The GiornateFAI.it website seems only to have downloadable PDFs (without maps) on the properties open in Milan, without any interactive map; although they seem to have put all their effort into that within their Italian-language-only Android and iOS apps. So, I present in this post a special Google Map (interactive of course) for the FAI Spring Day properties in the built-up area of Milan city.


Latest 2015 completion of Milan’s M5 line now also connects the Sempione district to the Metro system – more convenience for tourist hotel stays in this leafy neighbourhood with good restaurants


The leafy and relaxed Sempione district, north of Parco Sempione, just got connected to the Metro system in the year of Expo 2015, with the new Garibaldi to San Siro extension of the lilac M5 Metro line – so it has now become an even better alternative for hotel accommodation and dining in Milan.

Milano: tram, Arco della Pace e Castello Sforzesco

With the M5 stops of Domodossola, Gerusalemme, and (less importantly) Cenisio, the area is now well served by the Metro line – not to mention the four tram routes that go through here.

Its many tree-lined streets and avenues, combined with the many well-rated restaurants in the neighbourhood, makes Sempione well worth considering for those looking for a relaxed stay in a pleasant environment – away from the pressure of central Milan. (Click that link in the paragraph to read more on the Sempione district.)


Milan’s Sempione neighbourhood marked with the many well-rated restaurants in this district; plus some supermarkets. The new Gerusalemme and Cenisio M5 Metro stations are marked with a red ‘M”, while the Domodossola M5 Metro station is marked in brown. You can click on the following for the whole original interactive Milan tourist map.



What famous name has a show on the last day of Milan Fashion Week Spring 2016? Giorgio Armani – “fashion godfather”?

This week saw the last day of the 2016 Spring Fashion Week in Milan.

Any big names with a show on the last day… ? None other than Giorgio Armani – the godfather of Italian fashion?

Armani shows take place at their headquarters in Milan’s southwestern Tortona district. This once dark and industrial suburb first began being invaded by the fashion and design industry in the 1980’s. At the turn of the new century, Armani moved his corporate headquarters here, with some help from Pritzker Prize winning architect Tadao Ando.


Pritzker Prize winner, Tadao Ando (left), helped Giorgio Armani (right) design his new headquarters, with fashion show theatre, in Milan’s southwestern Tortona district. Image Credit: Twitter.com @LuiRob09

In 2000, Armani chose to leave the famous Teatrino of via Borgonuovo 21 in favor of a new, more metropolitan and minimalist space in an abandoned former factory… commissioned to one of the brightest stars of the international galaxy, Tadao Ando… The Teatro Armani is the first example in Milan of industrial architecture recycled for artistic purposes. The Japanese architect Tadao Ando, who, like Armani, is famous for his taste for simplicity and purity in design, has conceived a mixture of concrete, water and light… (source: Architetturadelmoderno.it)

Watch out in the press for reports on the latest Armani trends from his show.


Close to San Siro and Milan’s first World Expo in… 1906! Fiera / Lotto, an accommodation district for visitors to Milan

From the last post, we saw that the Fiera district of Milan has history that traces back to the World Expo that was held there in 1906 which was the first one for Milan (of course most recently repeated in 2015). With this area being used for trade fairs by the Fiera Milano company for most of the 20th century, it is little surprise that the hospitality industry – in restaurants, hotels and other accommodation – is present here for the use of visitors and tourists.


Streetview shot showing of one of the liveliest streets in the Fiera/Lotto district, Via Silva. You can go to the original interactive streetview in Google Maps.

Consistent with its use during the 20th century, most of this area is not really that old nor romantically quaint; however, thankfully, many of the streets are lined with young trees. There are a handful of larger established hotels and many more smaller accommodation options. (SEE for more on the Fiera/Lotto district, including interactive restaurant and tourist facilities map, and Metro and tram transportation details in the article “Stay in the Fiera / Lotto area, with the San Siro Stadium & the trade fair area of Fieramilanocity nearby“.)

As the Fiera district is to the northwest of Milan’s historical centre beyond the Inner Ring Road, it is also close to the San Siro Stadium, which lies further west again on the other side of Milan’s External Ring Road (beyond the M1 Metro station at Piazzale Lotto which is right on the External Ring Road). The San Siro Stadium is Italy’s largest venue with capacity for a crowd of 80,000, and has legendary status in throughout Europe as a crucible for football championships. Together with large pop concerts held there, patrons of the San Siro Stadium also often use the hotels and restaurants of the Fiera district.


Google map showing the lilac M5 Metro line on its way towards the San Siro Stadium, intersecting the red M1 Metro line at the Lotto Station. Tram 16, in grey, cuts across the External Ring Road a bit further to the west, and will also terminate at San Siro Stadium. Click the picture to enlarge, or look for the original interactive Google Map.

The newest exhibition grounds of the Fiera Milano company, since 2005, are in Rho, far beyond Milan city’s northwest boundary – and the hospitality trade has sprung up to serve this more sparsely populated area too.



Did you know Milan (not Rome) was the capital of the Western Roman Empire? Milan’s story, from strategic Celtic village, to Italian capital of industry and trade, leading world city in trends & style

Starting as a Celtic settlement at crucial crossroads (that in legend was founded by a prince from faraway Gaul)… at “the most commanding position”… in the “middle of the plain” (from which the name “Milan” originates – upon Italy’s largest plain and most populous region, the basin of the River Po)… to capital of the Western Roman Empire when Rome was no longer the seat of emperors… to economic and industrial capital of modern Italy – Milan has always been an important city.


Depiction of Milan’s original settlement as a strategic Celtic town of the Insubres. Image Credit: Taleworlds.com

With the World Expo 2015, Milan joined an elite handful of world cities that have hosted the exhibition more than once – despite more than a century having passed since the first time. The old 1906 trade fair grounds (with new exhibition halls built there not so long ago), slightly west of the city centre, have been such a fixture that the area has taken the name of “Fiera”. And the new exhibition grounds where Expo Milan 2015 was held at Rho, northwest of Milan, are also managed by the one iconic Milanese corporation with the unimaginative name, Fiera Milano… keeping Milan an economic, financial and trend leader in Italy and throughout Europe (not to mention that Milan is a world leader in style, design and fashion).

(SEE pictures of Milan as Roman Mediolanum in its heyday, and of the Fiera area when the 1906 Expo was held in Milan, as well as the new Fiera Milano area of Rho northwest of Milan, and read MORE in the article “The history of how and why Milan became such a politically and economically important city.)



Mystical Beauty of Mucha’s Muses, in Milan – the King of “Art Nouveau” Posters

# Before the eponymous Maison de l’Art Nouveau art gallery was first opened in Paris, and before the flag-bearer for Art Nouveau in Germany, the Jugend magazine, came into existence – Alfons Mucha had already come from obscurity (after seven years as a struggling Czech artist in Paris) to become an overnight sensation.

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Salammbo by Mucha. (Credits: All the reproductions in this post is credited to Poul Webb, and is representative of the body of work by Mucha, and does not seek to directly present works taken from the Milan Exhibition of the Richard Fuxa Foundation.)

The story involves “the most famous actress the world has ever known”, or at least of the 19th century, the French-born Sarah Bernhardt, renowned and feted throughout the world for almost fifty years, beginning from a time before film was invented.

This is how Mark Hudson of The Telegraph tells the story:

The yet-to-be-famous Mucha was “correcting proofs for a friend at the Lemercier printing works on Christmas Day, 1894. A call came through from Sarah Bernhardt, the theatrical superstar of the day, demanding a poster for her new production Gismonda, to be completed and on the streets by New Year’s Day. Since no one else was available, Mucha was given the job… captured in subtle colours that contrasted with the strident hues then dominating French advertising. The use of strong dark lines around important areas gave it a distinctive cloisonnist – or enamelled – a quality that came to define the Mucha style… Bernhardt herself was entranced. According to legend, the citizens of Paris woke on New Year’s Day to find the city plastered with the hypnotic image, and by lunchtime all had disappeared…”


Sarah Bernhardt in Gismonda – the poster that made Mucha’s name.

The story is continued at Kettererkunst.com:

… enthused the actress so much that she signed a six-year contract with her new favorite artist… Even though the Czech denied any kind of connection with Art Nouveau and always plead for a single everlasting art, his style was celebrated as the epitome of the movement. The connection even went to a point around 1900 when “Le Style Mucha” was synonymously used for Art Nouveau.

milan-mucha-Poster for Waverley Cycles 700

Poster for Waverley Cycles by Mucha

And now Milan has a rare Italian opportunity (just opened last week) to receive an extensive exhibition of posters by Mucha – a collection once owned by former world tennis star, the Czech, Ivan Lendl; taken from his private home and first publicly exhibited just in 2013. (Genova is the only other Italian city to be visited by this exhibition.)

Dates: 10 December 2015 – 20 March 2016
Venue:  Museum at the Palazzo Reale (Royal Palace), Piazza del Duomo, Milan

More details: see Turismo.milano.it in English; or the exhibition website in Italian, MostraMucha.it

milan-mucha-1898 The Arts - Music lithograph 700

The Arts – Music, by Mucha



For Moet & Chandon, by Mucha


milan-mucha-1902 Carriage Dealers Exhibition a

Carriage Dealers Exhibition, by Mucha


Staying in the outer west of Milan, from Via Lorenteggio to the San Siro Stadium

The preceding post was about Milan’s M5 Metro line which offered the newest way of getting to the San Siro Stadium – the new western terminus of the line. Another prior post dealt with districts passed on the way to San Siro – the legendary European arena of football (and also used for pop concerts etc.) – using the traditional way of getting to the stadium: Tram 16 which also terminates at the stadium.

If you are staying in the area of Milan generally west of the External Ring Road, there are also four separate bus lines which can take you past the San Siro Stadium. (This is a large swathe of Milan that runs roughly from the Tram 14 line which goes along Via Giambellino along the southern border of this area, which runs parallel south of the large and busy Via Lorenteggio; all the way north reaching the San Siro Stadium and the straight and continuous series of roads that lead west to the Stadium from Piazzale Fratelli Zavattari on Milan’s External Ring Road. Map discussed below.)


Green leafy areas with shops and restaurants -places in the west of Milan mentioned further below: 4) Via Morgantini, 5) Viale Gimignano

However this entire area is mostly just residential (definitely no tourist attractions around here!) with few if any established hotels, and no built-up commercial areas except perhaps the inner portion of the busy Via Lorenteggio, east of the intersection with Via Primaticcio. There are however, many apartment rental and b&b opportunities.


Map of the outer western area of Milan – screenshot of the interactive online map of Milan from Milanfinally.com – marked with well-rated restaurants (purple), shopping (orange), food markets (yellow)

This interactive map from Milanfinally.com of this western area of Milan shows that, apart from Via Lorenteggio along the south, there are some supermarkets sprinkled here and there to serve the local residents, with some of those spots also having popular restaurants, good for a meal and a drink. However, as this outer district of Milan is not so well served by the Metro or tram systems, you might do well to cling to the few tram and Metro options that exist here.

There are three main transport “ribs” to this western district: Tram 14 along the southern border of the area; the southwesterly fork of the red M1 Metro line that runs right through the centre of this area; and the lilac M5 Metro line that runs along the northern part of this area leading directly west to its terminus at San Siro Stadium (Tram 16 also runs on the road leading to San Siro Stadium)

1) The section of Via Lorenteggio east of the Via Primaticcio intersection has already been mentioned (with Tram 14 running parallel along Via Giambellino).

2) Along the M1 Metro line, the stops of Primaticcio and the very next stop, Inganni, both have well-reviewed restaurants nearby, as well as shops for provisions.

3) And finally, the section of Via Novara, closest to where it meets up with the road that leads to San Siro Stadium, has a number of reasonable restaurants along it, with some supermarkets nearby.

There are other areas here with lively collections of restaurants and shops – 4) notably Via Morgantini that runs off the main Via Rembrandt, and around where the nearby Via Fantoni meets Via Rembrandt, both of which are not far from the major intersection of Via Rembrandt and Viale Aretusa; and 5) another smaller and less lively area off Via Primaticcio, around where the streets of Azaga, Gimignano and Soderini intersect with each other – but not as convenient with regard to transport connections.

This outer western area of Milan is not a common tourist choice; but many of the places are leafy and quiet, and not lacking in good restaurants and shopping convenience – plus very good bus services to the San Siro Stadium if that happens to be on your agenda.


Newest Metro line opens up options north of Milan for hotel & accommodation rentals – the lilac M5

# The newest Metro line in Milan is the lilac-coloured M5. First opened in 2013 (more than 20 years after the opening of the last new line); its westerly arm, from Porta Garibaldi to the western terminus at San Siro Stadium, was completed and opened just this year in 2015.

Of course this has been a boon to AC Milan and Inter Milan football fans every weekend.

The western arm of the M5 line is also the first Metro line that crosses the Sempione area on both sides of the broad Corso Sempione, that runs outwards from the city northwest from Parco Sempione behind the historic Sforza Castle (with the Metro stops of Domodossola, Gerusalemme and Cenisio). The numerous restaurants and hotels in this area would definitely benefit from this new Metro line.


At Bicocca is the open campus of the University of Milano-Bicocca, with its modern architecture and pleasant landscaping, and the Piazza della Trivulziana commercial centre in the foreground that houses restaurants and cafes, Bicocca Village shopping mall at top right edge.



Milan Metro Map. The newest M5 line is in lilac. Image Credit: Milan Metro in Wikipedia.org

A handful of hotels has also chosen to take advantage of the far northern reaches of this young M5 Metro line.

There are at least two 4-star tourist hotels around the northern terminal stop of Bignami (and there are two shopping malls near Bignami). And a few stops further south towards the city, a large international chain has over 300 rooms in two branded hotels at Ca Granda. In between Ca Granda and Bignami is the stop of Bicocca with the large open campus of the University Milano-Bicocca – a pleasant area with modern architecture and quite a few restaurants and cafes serving the university population (a number of which are well-reviewed). There are no established hotels near this university area, but quite a number of apartment rental and b&b opportunities exist. (For more maps, description and transport details SEE the article “North along the lilac M5 Metro Line 5“.)


If you don’t mind being away from the busy city centre (but still less than 20 minutes from city stations), and would like to try for a cheaper alternative, the upper northern arm of the fairly new M5 Metro line of Milan may be worth considering. (So new, all the subway trains are automated and driverless on this line!)


In Milan, You Must O Bei! … the 500 year-old call that gave the name to Milan’s most famous Christmas market: “Oh bej! Oh bej!”, from Dec 5

Starting this Saturday December 5, is the traditional “Oh bej! Oh bej!” festive market of Milan (sometimes seen spelled the way it is pronounced – Obei Obei), Milan’s most famous; and in accordance with tradition, it lasts through Milan’s holiday for her patron saint, Sant’Ambrogio (Saint Ambrose – an early bishop of Milan), as well as the subsequent day, which is the national holiday of the Immaculate Conception, on the 7th and 8th of December respectively.

Originally held at the very centre of the old town; for around the last ten years, this seasonal market has been held around the site of the Sforza Castle, slightly northwest of the centre.


Firunatt sellers with their long necklace-strings of cooked chestnuts are a tradition at Milan’s “Oh bej! Oh bej!” Chrismas market. Image Credit: Italiapost.info


“Oh bej! Oh bej!” – Milan’s most famous Christmas market that stretches over the feasts of patron saint Sant’Ambroglio (Saint Ambrose), and that for the Immaculate Conception, as well as over the weekend. Image Credit: Clubmilano.net

Is this the only traditional market with a name that uses the linguistic device of repetition? Surely it is the only traditional market with exclamation marks as part of its name. The name is not for a BDSM fetish fair using the words of a master to a slave; but in the local dialect means something like “oh nice/beautiful”, and according to some accounts, were the words of children in the city streets receiving treats from a visiting dignitary over 500 years ago. It is a market that can trace a very long history.

“Oh bej! Oh bej!” is a Christmas market, with regional specialties such as yummy chestnuts threaded together in long strings (from the firunatt sellers), and toasty-warm mulled wine (the local term is vin brule).

For the last few years, an Alternative “Oh Bej” – Alter Bej – has been organized for the same period, that takes place on the Bussa Flyover across the top of Porta Garibaldi Station… a kind of fringe-festival market to Milan’s most famous “Oh bej! Oh bej!”


“Alter Bej” – An “alternative” market created to run parallel with the more famous “Oh bej! Oh bej!” Christmas market of Milan. Image Credit: Evensi.com

There is no better way to get into the Milanese Christmas spirit – just follow the command: You Must “Oh Bej”!


In Milan, Babbo Natale (Father Christmas) WANTS YOU TO O BEI, at the traditional, early December, Christmas market, “Oh bej! Oh bej!”