Il ventre di Milano

In 1888 in Milan, Editore Aliprandi published Il ventre di Milano. Fisiologia della capitale morale (The Belly of Milan: physiology of the moral capital), a book about the city written by a «society of literati» including Cletto Arrighi, dean of the “Scapigliatura” movement, Francesco Giarelli, Ferdinando Fontana and Aldo Barilli. The book set out to provide a more profound and in a certain sense a more honest narrative of the city with respect to the triumphant tones of the publications connected with the Universal Exposition of 1881, but also with respect to the opposite tack taken in the compassionate protest of social research on the lives of the poor, as in the work of Paolo Valera. The purpose of the volume was to remind people that these two versions of the city were the result of the same corruption of lifestyle that the modernity of the second half of the 1800s had brought as a side effect, parts of the same complex reality. The result is a precious portrait of Milan, rich in topographical, linguistic, social and lifestyle details, conveying a sense of the atmosphere of the time.