The four “Madonnines” of Milan 

Madonnines: As soon as you arrive in Piazza Duomo, in Milan, the first thing you notice, being not by chance the symbol of the Lombard capital, is it: the statue of the Madonnina, placed at 108.50 meters high on the highest spire of the Duomo so that it can protect the city and its inhabitants. 

Milan, the city-symbol of the Italian economy at an international level, has always been a crossroads of tourists, entrepreneurs, artists and politicians who come from all over the world on the occasion of relevant events, events and meetings. 

Yet, perhaps not everyone knows that the Duomo is not the only Madonnina in Milan, but there are three more, for a total of four Madonnines placed to watch over the skyscrapers, companies, homes and activities in Milan; here they are in detail! 

The Madonnina of Piazza Duomo 

The most famous Madonnina is, of course, the one just mentioned, which stands on Piazza Duomo since 1774. Made by the sculptor Giuseppe Perego and the goldsmith Giuseppe Bini, it is four meters high and, inside its halberd, hides a fully functional lightning rod.  

During the Fascism, Benito Mussolini ordered a law to prevent the construction of buildings in the city with a height higher than that of the Madonnina; consequently, the 108.50 meters of the statue became the maximum height limit for new buildings.  

Although with the end of the dictatorship the law lost all value, its content remained for several years as a kind of tacit agreement (unwritten) between the Curia and the Commune; therefore, all the newly built skyscrapers continued to have a height lower than that of Our Lady.


Why is Our Lady accompanied by a halberd? 

The Madonnina of Piazza Duomo, undisputed symbol of Milan, has a very particular feature: it is accompanied by a halberd, an accessory apparently strange to be combined with a sacred figure. In fact, the weapon has a much deeper meaning: considering that the statue, since its creation, has taken on the task of watching over the city and protecting the citizens, the halberd would simply be the expression of this so important role. Among other things, as mentioned above, the halberd consists of a “masked” lightning rod, installed in 1967 following a violent storm.  

From a symbolic point of view, instead, it seems that the halberd never appears next to the Madonna in the traditional iconography; however, in heraldry the halberd indicates just a figure that makes the guard which, associated with the Madonnina of Milan, makes sense.   

The Madonna of the Pirellone 

The tacit agreement not to erect buildings taller than the Madonnina del Duomo was broken for the first time in the sixties, during the construction of the Pirellone; the latter, designed by Giò Ponti, is in fact 127 meters high.  

Perhaps many people do not know this, but despite the fact that there is no written law, the Pirelli family had to deal with the Curia for a long time to get the building to the predetermined height. In the end, its construction was possible only on one condition: that a copy of Our Lady be placed on the roof of the skyscraper.

The record of height of the Pirellone remained unbeaten until 2010, the year in which it was built Palazzo Lombardia, the new skyscraper of the Region, 161 meters high.  


The Madonna of the Region 

The history of the Pirellone was repeated on the occasion of the construction of Palazzo Lombardia; once again, agreements were made with the Curia (after an endless series of negotiations) which, in the end, always yielded to the same condition: to place one (third) Statue of the Madonna on top of the new skyscraper.   

The Madonna of Torre Isozaki 

There is no two without three; and in fact, a third copy of the Madonnina is also located on the top of the Isozaki Tower in City Life, 210 meters high, where it was placed on the occasion of the inauguration of the building became, among other things, the highest in Italy.  

In practice, placing a copy of Our Lady on every new building that exceeds the original height has now become a tradition, as well as a gesture of pure superstition: it is said, in fact, that if a palace dared to stand above the original Madonnina it would be inexorably destined for destruction.  

What to eat in Milan under the Madonnina 

After admiring all the Madonninas of Milan, taking selfies and buying souvenirs, it is necessarily time to sit at the table of a local restaurant to refresh yourself with typical dishes and house wines.  

Here’s what to order:

the cutlet Milanese: also known as cutlet, from the French “côtelette”, consists of a dish deeply linked to the Milanese tradition, so much so that it was already mentioned in a document of 1148; 

the risotto alla milanese: the goodness of this dish lies in the simplicity of its ingredients that, combined with each other, give rise to a refined and silky taste that is distinguished by the presence of saffron; 

panettone: categorically 30 cm high and topped by a dome, is known worldwide for its softness and its unmistakable elegance; 

the ossobuco: often accompanied by a bed of risotto, it owes its name to the term “ossbus” which, in Milanese dialect, means “pierced bone” and indicates the piece of meat used, that is slices of veal shank characterized by soft meat around a bone full of marrow; 

cassöeula: an elaborate and very caloric dish based on pork and savoy cabbage, with a strong taste, able to warm up especially during winter days;  

the michetta: it is the typical empty sandwich inside, shaped like a star, famous all over the world and often stuffed with mortadella;

the Milanese minestrone: the original recipe is not easy to find, because initially it was prepared according to the seasonal vegetables available; consequently, you can find different variations depending on the time of year when you order;  

mondeghili: these are meatballs made with whipped meat, bread and egg;  

barbajada: is a drink named after its inventor, the Neapolitan Domenico Barbaja; 

the rostin nega’a: translated means “denied roast” and consists of a small knot of veal that includes the part of fillet and sirloin together with its piece of bone.


To best accompany the dishes just mentioned, it is recommended to order two local wines very popular and valuable: the Doc San Colombano Rosso and the Doc San Colombano Bianco. 

The first is produced with Croatina, Barbera and Uva Rara vines; in particular, the first gives it an intense color, a fruity scent and a harmonious taste; the second, instead, is produced with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. 

The ideal pairings include Doc San Colombano Rosso with risotto alla milanese, cassöeula, ossobuco, cotechino and lentils, Varzi salami and provolone, while Doc San Colombano Bianco with appetizers, fresh water fish and white meat dishes.

Copertina: duomomilano

Write a response

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Your custom text © Copyright 2018. All rights reserved.