Piazza Buonarroti. The rest home for musicians ( Cà Verdi ).
”The dining area halls are two large halls, each illuminated by the two double lancet windows on the facade. Therefore, facing, the square Michelangelo Buonarroti square, from which extends an endless view, crowned in the distance by the snow-white pinnacles of the Duomo and from even further by a floating line of ghost mountains: namely the hills of Brianza, the mountains of the Como, with fluctuating contours, which faintly descend down to the valleys. This is the spectacular expanse, open to the sun, which the Great Master, stopped to contemplate from the side terraces of the house. Standing or sitting, motionless, with that sharp phosphorescent gaze, steady or wandering nervously, in those highest years of glorious life, who can say what thoughts he caressed, what visions he revisited, what memories, what regrets, what joys or sorrows, which can mutually gladden or sorrow. Evident in every way that some of his pauses (which were sometimes prolonged, turning into real silences) were, or seemed to be, full of sadness. Obviously, that certain manner of talking in spurts, in a feeble voice, broken by dry giggles expressed a convulsive emotion. Very significant, in any case for us, that look which eventually reassembled the lines of his face in a expression of conscious calm, and almost solemn satisfaction, free from even the slightest shadow of vulgar pride.
This description of the famous resting home can read in the first publication on the rest home, published by Ricordi.
The rest home for musicians or simply, Casa Verdi (Cà Verdi) is a building that stands out and since being built, is of great historical and cultural importance to the city, as well as the neighbourhood.
Founded by Giuseppe Verdi in 1896 and built by Camillo Boito in neo-Gothic style, Casa Verdi also houses the tomb of the very same composer who died in 1901, and his wife Giuseppina Strepponi, who died in 1897.
Yet, the great Master still watches over the guests even from the centre of Piazza Buonarroti, where his statue made by Enrico Butti stands.
“A passer-by just a little bit higher than other passer-by’s”, is Alberto Savinio’s description in 1944.
In fact, what is amazing about this statue, inaugurated on 10th October 1913, is the relaxed attitude with which Verdi is depicted. It is anything but imposing, in fact, it seems, almost resigned. So much so, that Alberto Savinio further writes:
“You feel like climbing over the railing of wrought iron, helping the good Master to step down from the plinth, and giving him a hand to cross the street, taking him under the umbrella and to the rest home”.
From the centre of Piazza Buonarroti, where the statue of Verdi stands, you can walk down Buonarroti road and reach Piazza Piemonte.
Piazza Piemonte and the National Theatre
At the beginning of the Twentieth century, the building code for Milan prohibited constructing buildings higher than 28 metres.
However, “In virtue of the vastness of the square”, a special exemption was granted to elevate by 10 metres, the two twin buildings created in 1923 by Mario Borgato.
At the time of their construction, the two buildings were considered real skyscrapers, even if today, with their nine floors, they are resigned to handing this epithet to other more important buildings.
The two Borgato palazzo buildings, which stand in Piazza Piemonte, are still a wonderful example of art deco style and among the most beautiful found in Milan.
Mauro Borgato gives the city a third “skyscraper” – recently restored and less eclectic than the twins palaces – but still in Piazza Piemonte, is the National Theatre.
The National Theatre was inaugurated in 1923 by Mauro Rota and was used as a cinema for a long time. Only in 1979 did Giordano Rota, son of Mauro, return the building to its former role.
Today, after extensive renovation by the Dutch multinational Stage Entertainment, the theatre has become home to famous Broadway style musicals, which often run for an entire season.
From Piazza Piemonte unwinds Corso Vercelli, via Sardegna, via Washington, via Elba and via Marghera.
Via Marghera e il quartiere della Maddalena.
From this road map of 1904, you can see that the original path of Corso Vercelli also included the current Via Marghera and enveloped the Maddalena, an area prone to flooding by the river Olona. It is also where the De Angeli – Frua plants were located.
The industry of printed fabrics by Ernesto de Angeli was founded in 1872 and used the waters of the Olona flowing nearby for the manufacturing process.
In 1896, de Angeli goes into business with Giuseppe Frua, and the Maddalena area, hitherto characterised by a set of country houses and a bridge on the Olona, becomes a true industrial district.
During the twenties, the river is rerouted and in the fifties the de Angeli – Frua business closes down. Although, the square in which the current Via Marghera ends, takes its name from the first of the company founders. La Maddalena neighbourhood has over the years undergone several transformations.
Via Marghera, is now home to many shops and modern buildings, there are only a few houses left from the late Nineteenth century.
Piazza de Angeli instead preserves the votive column to Santa Maddalena, from which the neighbourhood takes its name. It was built by San Carlo Borromeo as thanksgiving for when the plague of 1576-77 ended. The statue by the sculptor Egidio Boninsegna has instead been lost.
In 1962, to facilitate the underground being built, the fountain was dismantled and then transferred elsewhere.
Since then, it has gone missing, despite the keen interest of many people including Pierluigi Boninsegna, son of Egidio.
Piazza Piemonte runs over Vercelli, which ends in Piazzale Baracca.
Vercelli course and the peg leg
Piazza Piemonte, notoriously, was located on the road to Vercelli, given that it can be evidenced by the presence of the Vercellina or Magenta port in Piazzale Baracca, destroyed in 1885.
Corso Vercelli represented the beginning of the postal road to Novara and, since 1873, officially became part of the City of Milan.
Always providing streets full of shops, from 1878 it also became the starting point for the famous peg leg, the suburban tram that ran a stretch of 23 km from Milan to Magenta.
The peg leg represented a real technological novelty, since the tram in the city were pulled by horses while it was fuelled by steam and required to move a railway created to support the passage of a tractor of at least 5 tonnes and at least three carriages attached.
The provincial council of Milan had established that the maximum velocity allowed in city was 10 km / h, decreasing it to 5 km / h in the presence of fog.
The average cost for a passenger was about 5 lira cents per kilometre and was used courtesy by commuters though, during the Second World War, this distinction will not be net as it is the only means of public transport that can function even during bombings because it is not powered by current.
The peg leg started from Corso Vercelli and then moved towards the suburb of San Pietro in Sala (now Piazza Wagner), continuing into the district of La Maddalena (now Piazza De Angeli), Europe Island and Trenno (today known as Lampugnano). Its journey continued until the last stop, Magenta. On 31 August 1957, the line was removed to make room for more modern vehicles
San Pietro in Sala and Piazza Wagner
The Church of San Pietro in Sala stands where the ancient village of Sala once was, separate from the city, whose first traces date back to the tenth century. Initially the resort was called Sala Rozonis, then simply Sala.
According to a document dated 1028, in the Sala area was a chapel built by a non-better known Raitruda and consecrated by Archbishop Aribert d’Intimiano.
The chapel, then, was passed in inheritance to the monastery of Sant’Ambrose and was rebuilt in 1141 at the behest of Monaco Eriberto from Pasilvano, which, as noted by the ancient plaque at the bottom of the right aisle of the current church, was dedicated to Saints Peter and Paul. It was Carlo Borromeo to make the chapel a parish. It was in the year 1581 when the old church was torn down and a new one was built. Having become insufficient to accommodate a growing population for the nearby industrial areas, in 1838 the church was rebuilt, but in the second half of the century, an exponential growth of the population of the area, forced a further reconstruction of the building that was built in the first twenty years of the twentieth century. The new church was designed by Antonio Casati and Oreste Benedetti. The project was completed in June 1924, when the church was consecrated in the forms that we admire today.
From this evidence, it is undoubtedly the Church of San Pietro in Sala that is one of the most ancient places of worship in Milan.