Foto Documento Mese Novembre 2015

Stop Duomo. The Cathedral at the centre of a debate about Milanese metro

The Document of the Month of November 2015

The Archive of the Veneranda Fabbrica preserves a series of extraordinary importance and interest for the history of the institution itself and of Milan: the Ordinazioni capitolari, reports of the meetings of the Board of the Veneranda Fabbrica del Duomo, once called Capitolo.

THE BOARD’S DECISIONS, FROM 1444 TO PRESENT TIME. During those meetings, in the past as today, the most various matters about the life of the Fabbrica were discussed: the works for the construction – and then the restoration – of the Cathedral, the commission of artworks, the administration of the assets, the internal organisation of the institution and much more. The importance and variety of the topics, together with the chronological continuity of the documents preserved – from 1444 to present time – makes it a fundamental historic source: in it, it is possible to find little and great events that involved not only the Duomo, but the entire city.

THE METRO AND THE 1915 REPORT. In particular, this month, we would like to present a document dating back to the 18th January 1915: Italy was not involved in the World War, developing at its doors, yet, but the chancellor highlighted in the report the “uncertain situation of present time”. Many were the topics discussed in the meeting, but one of them, in hindsight, is particularly interesting for revealing the link between the city and the Veneranda Fabbrica. Monsignor Ambrogio Belgeri showed to the other members of the council a strong concern for the many projects that various engineers were presenting in those years for the creation of a subway line, aimed at raising Milan at the modern level of other European capitals, such as London and Paris.

CONCERNS AND REASSURANCES. All these projects, although very different, had one point in common: the passage in close proximity to the Cathedral: which consequences would have had, on the static of the Duomo, such an invasive underground intervention? Ready and reassuring the answer of the Fabbrica architect, Zacchi: «The risk of the Metro, that does not compromise the static of the Duomo, is distant as far as execution is concerned, and unfounded regarding the place involved, that respects the area of the Duomo». Senator Greppi also reassured the monsignore, asserting that the layout of the Metro «will go through via Dante or, at last, via Manzoni». Fifty years would have passed by before Milan could see its first Metro line and, still then, there would have been many worried voices regarding the effects of the underground works on the Cathedral’s stability. As always, the history of the Milan and that of the Fabbrica weave together and recall each other, and the Archive duly preserves the testimony of this inseparable link.