Between the two world wars

On 4 November 1918 the city celebrates the end of the war and the Italian victory at Piazza della Scala. The Bourse immediately reopens and financial and banking activities resume, an area in which Milan has been the Italian capital since the late 1800s. Lombardy, like the rest of Italy, is still an agricultural territory, for the most part, but Milan is already starting to develop its industrial and service sectors, out in front of a trend that would impact the entire nation after World War II.

In 1920, with the aim of stabilizing the tradition of the Expositions that had two high points in Milan in 1881 and 1906, the “Ente Autonomo Fiera Internazionale” of Milan organized, in the public gardens at Porta Venezia, the first “Fiera Campionaria,” which three years later was moved to its own facility at the Nuova Piazza d’Armi, where it was to remain until its move to the Alfa Romeo area at Portello and to the new fair facility in Rho (Fieramilanocity). In 1933, the Biennial of the Decorative Arts of Monza moved to Milan, becoming the Triennale. The two events confirm the fact that Milan never stops planning for the future, not only its own future, but also that of the whole country. Milan, after all, is also the capital of publishing both of books and periodicals: the publishing houses founded in the 1800s (Sonzogno, Treves, Vallardi, Hoepli) are joined by Arnoldo Mondadori Editore, while Corriere della Sera emerges as the newspaper of the moderate middle classes of the nation, a powerful tool of information and formation of opinion (though the market of readers is still quite small).

The years 1919 and 1920 witness dramatic struggles of unions and workers, setting off warning alarms in the financial, industrial and agricultural bourgeoisie. These concerns, together with others, create fertile ground for the birth of the movement of the “Fasci di combattimento,” which officially takes place in the Palazzo dell’Unione degli Industriali, on Piazza San Sepolcro, on 23 March 1919. In November 1925 the fascistization of the departments of the municipal government is carried out, interrupting a long tradition of socialist leadership. Nevertheless, in spite of all this, and in spite of the energetic work of repression of the Black Shirts, Fascism never meets with widespread consensus in Milan.