Castel Sant'angelo

Castel Sant'Angelo - The legend of St Michael

Castel Sant'Angelo, also known as Hadrian's Mausoleum, is a monument in Rome whose history began in 135 AD. The Emperor Hadrian asked the architect Demetrius to build a funeral mausoleum for himself and his family, inspired by the model of the Mausoleum of Augustus, but with gigantic dimensions. From that moment on, the centuries-long history of this building began.

Castel Sant'Angelo is one of the most fascinating architectural sites in Rome. And it has had many unsolved mysteries surrounding it for centuries. But there is one legend in particular that we would like to tell you about: the one that explains its name.

According to tradition, in 590 AD, Pope Gregory the Great ascended to the papal throne against the backdrop of a city in the grip of anarchy and famine. Only a few, scanty citizens wandered among the ruins of what had been the capital of the world. To further complicate an already critical situation, a disastrous flood of the Tiber - which submerged most of the city - and a terrible plague, which decimated the already sparse population, arrived.

To invoke divine mercy, Pope Gregory organised a three-day procession. The entire population took part, singing hymns in a city prey to the plague, which also mowed down the procession, electrocuting the men and causing them to fall to their deaths. As they reached Hadrian's mausoleum, however, the Romans could clearly see something of incredible. The bright silhouette of the archangel Michael silhouetted against the violet sky in the act of sheathing a flaming sword. It was 29th August 590. That very evening the pestilence ceased. Hadrian's mausoleum thus became the Castle of the Angel.

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Museo Egizio

Egyptian Museum - The Tomb of Kha and Merit

The Egyptian Museum of Turin is the oldest museum in the world, entirely dedicated to the Nilotic civilisation. And it is considered, for value and quantity of the finds, the most important in the world after the one in Cairo.

The museum is dedicated exclusively to Egyptian art. Inside you can find mummies, papyri and everything related to ancient Egypt (including stuffed animals) for a total of more than 37,000 pieces covering the period from the Palaeolithic to the Coptic era.

There are many curiosities to be found in its halls. In addition to a real 'Book of the Dead', to which an entire wall is dedicated, and the Mensa Isiaca (an ancient bronze table of the Savoy family), there is also room for some special objects with a romantic story. An example? The Tomb of Kha and Merit.

The tomb of Kha and his wife Merit is one of the many treasures preserved in the Egyptian Museum. Discovered in what is now Luxor in 1906, it still tells a beautiful love story. Kha was in fact the architect who directed the maintenance work on the tombs in the Valley of the Kings. When his wife died prematurely, it is believed that he, in infinite despair, adapted his own sarcophagus for her, the only one that had already been completed, taking care that the body of his wife was comfortable in an oversized coffin and that her death mask was garnished with the most beautiful stones. When he too passed away, he was buried together with his beloved wife, to be united with her in eternity.

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Duomo of Milan - The legend of the dragon Tarantasio

The facade of the Duomo of Milan never ceases to amaze. If you look carefully to the right of the central doorway, in the lower part of the marble frieze, you can make out the representation of a small dragon. According to popular tradition, this is none other than the famous dragon Tarantasio.

The dragon Tarantasio was the undisputed ruler of Lake Gerundo between the 12th and 13th centuries. The lake was a vast expanse of stagnant water that has now disappeared, situated in Lombardy, straddling the beds of the rivers Adda and Serio. It was in an area that today could be defined as lying between the provinces of Bergamo, Lodi, Cremona and Milan.

According to legend, the fantastic creature frequently emerged from the waters. It devoured children and animals, emitting deadly miasma and spreading terror in the countryside. Until one fine day, the dragon was killed, according to some by Frederick Barbarossa, according to others by Saint Christopher or even - according to a source destined to become very popular in later centuries - by one of the Visconti family. It is said that this heroic gesture gave rise to the coat of arms of the noble family, depicting the famous "biscione" devouring a child.

The legend was widely spread throughout the Milanese territory. It was even a source of inspiration for the sculptor Luigi Broggini, who used Tarantasio as a model for the image of the six-legged dog, the symbol of Eni, whose first methane field was discovered in 1944 in Caviaga, a hamlet of Cavenago d'Adda.

So, even centuries later, the Tarantasio dragon never ceases to fascinate.

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