History tells us that Mediolanum (Milan), the Latinized form of Medhelanon, meaning "sanctuary", was founded by the Insubri Celts in 590 B.C. According to Titus Livy’s comments, the city was founded around 600 B.C. by Belloveso, chief of the Celtic tribe. Legend has it that Bellovaso found a mythological animal known as the “half-woolly sow” (in medio lanae) which became the symbol of Gallic Milan until the end of the 4th century.
Curiosity: The emblem of the “half-woolly sow” or scrofa semilanuta can still be seen today on a bas relief brought to light in 1233 during the excavations of Palazzo della Ragione and later inserted into the wall of the second arch of the same building in via Mercanti.
Curiosity: Imperial Milan had a triumphal way flanked by large porticoed colonnades emerging from Porta Romana and continuing towards Rome, ending (at the area of today’s “Crocetta”) with an enormous triumphal arch (much larger than the Arch of Constantine in the Roman Forum).
After the abdication of Maximian (in 306 A.D.) on the same day in which Diocletian also abdicated, there were series of wars of sucession, during which there was a succession of three emperors in just a few short years: first Severo, who prepared the expedition against Maxentius, then Maxentius himself in war against Constantine, and finally Constantine, victor of the war against Maxentius.
Curiosity: In 313 A.D. the Emperor Constantine issued the Edict of Milan (Edict of Constantine), ending the persecutions against Christians and making Milan one of the most important Christian Centres of Western Europe.
Saint Ambrose (374-397 A.D.) is the city’s patron saint. The celebration of Saint Ambrose is held on the 7th of December, the date in which he was consecrated Bishop in 374. The Basilica bearing his name was dedicated in his honour. In Milanese dialect he is called sant'Ambroeus (classic handwriting) or sant'Ambrös (both spelled "sant'ambrœs"), and the adjective “Ambrosiano” has became a synonym for “Milanese”. During the period of his bishopric, Milan became the fulcrum of the Western Church and Christianity became the official state religion of the Roman Empire.
Curiosity: According to the Ambrosian rite, in use even in the period before Saint Ambrose, who revised it in detail, the Church of Milan has a liturgy that is different from the Roman one. In the Diocese of Milan Advent begins on the 11th of November and lasts for six weeks, while in the Roman rite it begins on the 26th of November and lasts four weeks. Lent does not begin on Ash Wednesday but on the Sunday after. And the Carnival of the Ambrosian Rite comes to Milan after the rest of Italy has ended their celebrations. It is during the Ambrosian Carnival that the so-called “sabato grasso” is celebrated.
Curiosity/2: the 7th of December, day of the Patron saint of Milan, is also the opening of the Opera Season of Teatro La Scala.