Porta Ticinese - THREE city gates with the same name in Milan? Yes! 3 in a line - Roman, Medieval and Spanish Habsburg.

In the southern part of Milan city, there are gates with the Porta Ticinese name, lined up along an ancient route, along three successive historical city walls (Roman, Medieval and Spanish Habsburg), showing Milan's growth spanning over 2000 years.

Over history, Milan has had three sets of city walls built around it in succession: the Roman Walls, the Medieval Walls, and lastly the Spanish Walls during 16th century reign by the Spanish Habsburgs. Although these walls are no longer complete, their traces form concentric rings around the heart of the city; with the Medieval Walls and the Spanish Walls now followed by a route of ring roads: the Cerchia dei Navigli and the Cerchia dei Bastioni (Inner Ring Road) respectively. (SEE the more detailed article "Rings around Milan - ancient walls and modern ring roads around Milan [Circonvallazioni di Milano]".)

A few names of the Roman gates are still used today and have been extended to refer to the lively districts adjacent to and beyond the descendant gates along the later Spanish Walls (Porta Nuova, Porta Romana, Porta Ticinese); while others have had their names changed over the years.

The only standing remnant of a Roman city gate left is that for Porta Ticinese - a tall Roman tower that formed part of that old gate (hidden from street view but easily accessible, as will be described later). Most Roman gates of Roman Mediolanum (Milan) were named after the destinations that those roads led to. Porta Ticinese was named after the Roman city of Ticinum (modern day Pavia) south of Milan, which is on the banks of the river of the same name, the Ticino River, not far from where the Ticino merges into the Po River. The Ticino River is the nearest major tributary of the all important Po River to Milan. Let us first look at the Porta Ticinese at the Inner Ring Road along the path of the old Spanish Walls.

Porta Ticinese today, along Milan's 16th century Spanish Walls, replaced in the Napoleonic era, early 19th century

the newest and largest gate for Porta Ticinese was built in the Napoleonic era of the 19th century, and stands on the path of the 16th century Spanish Walls of Milan
Porta Ticinese at Piazza Venti Quattro Maggio - built in the early 19th century during Milan's Napoleonic era, along the path of the old 16th century Spanish Walls, replacing the gate from that Spanish Habsburg era. Image Credit: Mauro Marenco - mauro1968 in Panoramio.com.

The present-day gate for Porta Ticinese along the Inner Ring Road at Piazza Venti Quattro Maggio (pictured above), the southern end of Corso di Porta Ticinese, was built relatively recently, between 1801 and 1814 during the Napoleonic era of Milan ("known... during Napoleonic rule as Porta Marengo... the town of Marengo... located south-west of Milan"). The Inner Ring Road traces the path of the 16th century city walls built during the reign over Milan of the Spanish Habsburgs (hence known as the Spanish Walls - SEE the more detailed article on the Inner Ring Road, Cerchia dei Bastioni of the Spanish Walls of Milan). The neighbourhood here is a focal point for the popular Navigli area. The old gate for the Spanish Wall here was demolished when this newest gate was erected.

Medieval Porta Ticinese from the 12th century

Medieval Gate of Porta Ticinese still standing in Milan
The Medieval Porta Ticinese along the previous 12th century Medieval Walls of Milan which has been replaced by the Cerchia dei Navigli ring road system around Milan. Image Credit: Claudio Pedrazzi in Panoramio.com

Continuing north along the Corso di Porta Ticinese, just a few steps before reaching the Roman-era Columns and Basilica of San Lorenzo, stands the Medieval gate for Porta Ticinese - part of the 12th century walls built during the Medieval era (Milan's Medieval Walls - SEE the more detailed article on the Cerchia dei Navigli along the Medieval Walls encircling Milan's Centro Storico). The Medieval walls were built by Milan mostly as a defence against the repeated military campaigns across the northern half of Italy by the feared Barbarossa (see Frederick's Italian expeditions), who was the German holder of the title of "Holy Roman Emperor". This gate stands where Corso di Porta Ticinese intersects with Via De Amicis, which is part of the Cerchia dei Navigli ring road that follows the path of Milan's previous Medieval Walls.

Roman era Porta Ticinese (hidden behind two buildings, but still visible from a side street)

remaining Roman tower that formed part of Porta Ticinese shown embedded into the walls of two adjoining buildings in Largo Carrobbio, Milan
Remnant of a Roman tower that was part of the Roman-era Porta Ticinese, now embedded into the walls of two buildings in front and by the side of the Hotel Ariston at Largo Carrobbio, the northern end of Corso di Porta Ticinese. Image Credit: Roberto Arsuffi at Skyminohouse

The last and only standing remnant of a Roman gate in Milan is that for Porta Ticinese. Although the Romans took Mediolanum from the Celtic Gaul tribe of the Insubres in 222 BC, the Roman Walls around Milan were not built until some centuries later during the times of Julius Caesar in the mid 1st century AD (SEE the articles on the Origins and Foundation of Milan, as well as The Lost Path of the Roman Walls of Milan).

The Roman era gate of Porta Ticinese in Milan - illustration showing a hypothetical recontruction
Reconstruction of Porta Ticinese in the Roman Wall of Milan. Image Credit: FrancescoCorni.com

This remnant tower of the Roman-era Porta Ticinese is hidden from street view, however it is easily accessible for viewing from the Hotel Ariston carpark that fronts on to Largo Carrobbio - Largo Carrobbio is at the northern end of Corso di Porta Ticinese (while at the opposite southern end is the 19th century gate along the path of the 16th century Spanish Walls - with the Medieval gate in between).

This Roman Republic era tower hides behind the current "Pane e Vino" restaurant and has now become built into the walls of two buildings, in front and by the side of the present Hotel Ariston, visible from the hotel carpark that fronts on to Largo Carrobbio. SEE and explore the Google Streetview Map below of images recorded by roving Google cameras in 2008.

Here is the Google Streetview - using images from 2008 - from Via Medici, of the carpark of Hotel Ariston that fronts on to Largo Carrobbio. In the centre, you can see the bricked tower, now embedded into two buildings, which belongs to a Roman tower that was part of the Roman-era Porta Ticinese. Feel free to click and drag around inside the Google Streetview to explore the area. You can also go to the original streetview on Google Maps.


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