Join in the fun with some interesting facts about Milan that most tourists might not know. From the Madonnina’s price tag to a church with skulls and Chinese signs there’s a joy to be had by learning all these wonderful things before you visit.
Most churches in Milan have this glorious and majestic vibe due to the statues of saints, gold-lined ceilings, patterned marble or ceramic flooring, and bright lighting. However, one church that decided to break from the rules is the Santuario di San Bernandino alle Ossa in Piazzale Aquileia.
Part of this spooky church bears hundreds of human bones. The origin of these bones isn’t clear. Some say that they’re plague victims, while others claim that they’re the remains of witches or criminals. Today, they’re simply known as a tourist attraction and a hit sensation on Instagram.
There is a steadily growing Chinese population in Milan, so much so, that there’s an actual Chinatown between the neighborhoods of Porta Volta and Borgo Degli Ortolani.
This isn’t just a simple place where the Chinese live and start a business either. Here, Chinese newspapers are sold and business names are written primarily in Chinese characters with the Italian translation in small characters at the bottom.
All in all, coming to this place feels like you’re hardly in Milan at all, but to experience the fusion of Chinese and Italian cultures is something to behold.
The Madonnina is one of the defining features of Milan. It safeguards the city against misfortune at the top of its most iconic church, and is very popular with the Duomo Catherdral’s 6,000,000 annual visitors.
While people heavily celebrate her beauty today, no celebrations were held during her inauguration.
Lighting and wind plagued Milan from 1773-1774 and due to its high placement and material for construction, Madonnina is likely to attract lightning. This made the people scared of going up on the Duomo Rooftop, and as a result, no celebrations were held.
At the tallest point of the Duomo is the golden statues of the Virgin Mary or the Madonnina. Administrators of the Duomo meticulously care for this statue because it acts as Milan’s religious symbol.
But aside from being a religious symbol, Madoninna needs a lot of care because it might be one of the most expensive statues in the world.
The Madonnina consumed about 6,750 gold leaves for its making and restoration. 0.10 microns of pure gold leaf costs about $2,381 at present. Do the multiplication and the cost for this statue is a staggering $16,071,750 which is a figure that exceeds the annual income of most local businesses and the budget of the local government of developing countries.
Last Supper Restoration
At Milan’s Galleria, many are standing at the ticketing booth to see the Last Supper. This is by far the most artistic representation of Jesus Christ’s last meal with the disciples. None could’ve made this painting other than Leonardo Da Vinci’s genius.
Leonardo’s legacy withstood the test of time. However, the Last Supper didn’t. The painting in Galleria is an original painting and not the original at the same time. The Last Supper that tourist race to see is actually a restored work. The one who took the task of remaking the painting is Pinin Brambilla and other experts.
You can read more about the restoration and how it took 20 years for Pinn to complete in the official record, Leonardo: The Last Supper.
Something you’ll learn quickly when visiting Milan, is the that Milanese love their bicycles. One of the most historic and prestigious bike brands, Bianchi, started out in Milan over 130 years ago in 1885. These bikes today, use record steel construction, brass rear cluster and chain, and other classic Campagnolo bike parts.
Bianchi stays true to its classic heritage allowing you to rent them in the Bianchi Cafe and Cycles. This is an establishment that acts as a bike rental/accessories store and as a food hub at the same time.
Venice of the West
The artistry found in Milan is not the only thing reminiscent of Venice, as the city is literally filled with canals. You’ve most likely already heard of the Naviglio Grande and the Naviglio Pavese which decorate the Navigli District in southern Milan, but you might not know is, there were actually were five canals in Milan that once connected Milan to the nearby Lago Maggiore.
The Naviglio Martesana still enters Milan in the Quartiere Adrian district, but then disappears underground at Cassina de’ Pomm. You don’t see it, but it runs underneath Via Melchiorre Gioia the Martesana and heads south past Milano Centrale. It then passes through San Marco where it merges into the Fossa Interna, the inner canal ring that surrounds the city center. Eventually, the water from the Martsena ends up in the Lambro River.
Real Bodies Museum
There was once an exhibition in Milan that curated real human corpses! Back in 2016 and again in 2018, the Real Bodies Museum came to Milan. Their purpose was to hold an exhibition that features authentic human flesh.
The exhibition showed a full-sized human body without skin. There was also an exhibition for specific parts such as the arms, legs, and torso. Of course, the human head and the brain fascinated viewers too.