Monday, May 7, 2012 8:35:25 AM
In the very center of Milano there is a cathedral, whose construction started in 1386.
Because of the size of the construction, planned to be the biggest ever made and the difficulties, it wasn't ever completed. I mean the contemporary look of the cathedral was finalized only in the early '800 and since then parts of the building have been restored, changed, added and so on. There is an organization, founded in year 1387 and named "Venerable Factory of the Duomo of Milan" whose mission is to supervise the construction and maintenance of the cathedral. And then there is a popular saying about something being "as long as the factory of the Duomo", meaning a work that never ends.
The cathedral has got many pinnacles and statues. On top of the main pinnacle there is a golden statue of virgin Mary, positioned there in 1774, as probably intended since the original project, to act as "protection" over the whole city. The statue is named "madonnina" or "madunina" (little Madonna in italian and local language). Madonna comes from latin "mea domina" and it means "my lady", where "dominus" is more or less the same as "lord".
Besides being an object of religious devotion for catholics, who, by the way, are about 90% of Italians, the statue has become a traditional symbol of the city of Milano. The tradition includes the unwritten prohibition of building anything taller than the statue, 108.5 meters. This lasted until in 1956 a skyscraper, designed by the best italian engineers and architects and being one of the tallest ever made in reinforced concrete, was build for the Pirelli corporation, near the main train station. Since the skyscraper was meant to be 127 meters tall, it would had been taller than the statue of Mary then breaking the unwritten law. To amend this disrespectful violation, an exact copy of the statue was put also on top of the skyscraper. So the statue of virgin Mary has been the tallest over the city until 2010, when another skyscraper was built, this time meant to be 167 meters tall. Again, another exact copy of the statue has been positioned on top of the new building as sign of respect.
There is also a song in local language that celebrates the "madunina" of the Duomo.
The title is "oh mia bela madunina" (oh my beautiful madunina) and it was written in 1938. In time it has become "traditional" as well: