Milan since the Miracle: City, Culture, and Identity

Milan since the Miracle: City, Culture, and Identity

Milan since the Miracle: City, Culture, and Identity

Milan since the Miracle: City, Culture, and Identity


This book is the first comprehensive post-war history of one of Europe's most vibrant cities throughout an extraordinary period of social, cultural and economic change. The capital of Italy's economic miracle of the 1950s and 60s, Milan was a magnet for immigrants, as industry, design and culture created a heady mix of wealth, innovation and conflict. By the 1980s, heavy industry had all but disappeared and the city had reinvented itself as the world capital of fashion and a dynamic post-industrial metropolis. Meanwhile, the urban landscape was darkened by the bleak estates of the peripheries and the corruption scandals that exploded in what became known as 'Tangentopoli', or Bribesville.This fascinating book traces Milan's 'biography' through its buildings, design, fashion, cinema, families, immigrants and television. The city emerges as a potent economic power-house and laboratory for change, where art and culture converge in a modern but problematic urban space. Anyone interested in Italian history, urban studies or the future of Europe's cities will find this book an essential read.


A city which has consumed itself again and again (Primo Moroni)

The city is constructed by its gaps (Stephen Barber)

Over the last fifty years, the city of Milan has gone through a series of tumultuous changes. As the ‘capital of the miracle’, Milan led Italy's extraordinary economic miracle and consolidated its role as the financial and industrial capital of Italy. Hundreds of thousands of immigrants arrived from across the peninsula and the city's periphery began to dominate the historic centre. New estates sprang up around the city, extending the urban area across to Venice to the east and Turin to the west. The hinterland stretched as far as the eye could see. Culturally, the city was the centre of early Italian television production, and produced a series of filmmakers whose work went to the very heart of the contradictions of the boom years. Luchino Visconti's Rocco and his Brothers (1960) symbolized the miracle in Milan. Luciano Bianciardi's marvellous polemical novel La vita agra (1962), set in the Milan of the miracle, depicted a city able to win over even the most incorrigible of potential rebels. Giovanni Testori published an evocative series of novels (with the collective title The Secrets of Milan) set amongst the lumpenproletariat of the city and the hinterland, from Giambellino to Roserio to Novate Milanese to Via MacMahon to Bovisa (1961, 1985, 1996, 1998).

Yet, almost as soon as it had begun, the boom came to an end. Industrial production began to shift away from the city itself and the immigrant wave slowed down to a trickle. This process went unnoticed by sociologists and historians with the upheavals of 1968. Workers and students dominated the streets of Milan for over ten years, occupying the central city streets which had been cleared of the city's working classes in the post-war period. The Piazza Fontana bomb of 1969, and the Dreyfus-like cases of Pinelli and Valpreda, radicalized thousands of young people and provided the focus for protest through the 1970s. Milan invented a new date to rank with 1 May and 25 April – 12 December. During the ‘years of lead’, the struggle turned violent and each side was left with numerous martyrs to mourn and avenge.

With the end of student protest, Milan was faced with a yet more painful process of de-industrialization. Companies that had constructed the city and given work . . .

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