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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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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The black lady

The Black Lady - The spectre of Parco Sempione

Parco Sempione, the most famous and largest park in Milan, is a 15th century park located near the famous Castello Sforzesco. In this very popular place, you will find several sculptures and buildings. Ancient palaces that gave luster to the artistic and cultural history of Milan. But here it is said that there is also a disturbing presence: the Black Lady.

According to legend, it is the spectre of a mysterious lady, who would appear, especially on summer, with her face hidden by a black veil, walking alone all through the park. Who met her, tells she has a doded attitude and does not like to attract attention. It even seems that if she is somehow annoyed or disturbed, she disappears and does not show up for several days.

But some stories are much more gloomy. Other versions tell that on fog nights, when Parco Sempione is deserted, happen to smell an intense flavour of violets. A beautiful woman wrapped in a long black dress and a dark veil covering her face would approach you, handing her frosty hand. Then, she would drag you along hidden paths of the park, into an increasingly dense fog, to a misterious large mansion.

Inside this mansion the Dama would allow herself to the poor visitors and then show them the face: a skull with empty orbits, which would make them run away. Legend tells that men who have been victims of the Dame lose their minds and are leaded to madness. They would spend the rest of their lives trying to find the dark lady's mansion.
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