The neighborhood that extends along the axis of Via Torino and Corso di Porta Ticinese in the direction of Pavia (the Roman Ticinum) is one of the oldest in Milan. The architectural heritage found in this area, including the circus and amphitheater of the Roman era and the basilicas of San Lorenzo and Sant’Eustorgio, reflects a stratified urban fabric in which the ancient city and the contemporary city coexist.
A district of craftsmen – most blacksmiths and tanners – who took advantage of the many waterways for their work, the Ticinese zone originally extended as far as the old gate of the city (the only one of the six medieval gates, together with the arches of Porta Nuova, to have survived until our time), beyond which stood the Borgo di Cittadella. It was only in 1801-1814, in honor of Napoleon’s victory at Marengo, that a new gate was erected in the present Piazza XXIV Maggio, with a design by the architect Luigi Cagnola. The site enlivened by constant traffic of goods and persons, which arrived thanks to the many canals and the nearby Darsena (the historic city port), was a dynamic gathering point of the city for many years. From the first to the second half of the 1800s the Naviglio Grande and the Naviglio Pavese became the new thoroughfares of urban development in the zone. Important factories were opened, as well as the Porta Genova station in 1865, for the trains connecting Milan and Vigevano, while new working-class housing complexes were built along what is now called Via Vigevano.
The wars of the 20th century had a serious impact on the history of the neighborhood, which was one of the areas most heavily damaged during World War II. In 1919 the Ticinese zone saw the birth of the Movimento dei Fasci di Combattimento at Piazza San Sepolcro, where it is still possible to see the project by Piero Portaluppi for the Casa del Fascio (1935-1940), now a police station that contains a frieze by Lucio Fontana, Volo di Vittorie (1939). The possibility of reconstructing entire blocks, inserting the results in the historical fabric of the city, and the need to respond to the housing emergency were the themes debated, at times with extraordinary results, by the designers of the postwar era.
Among the most important works of architecture in the area in which Alik Cavaliere and Francesco Messina worked:
Headquarters of the Federazione dei Fasci Milanesi (1935 – 1940)
Piazza S. Sepolcro, 9
Design: Piero Portaluppi
Residential building (1954 – 1957)
Via Circo, 1
Design: Luigi Figini, Gino Pollini
Convento della Beata Vergine Addolorata (1946 – 1955)
Via Calatafimi, 10
Design: Luigi Caccia Dominioni
Residential building (1968)
Piazza San Giorgio
Design: BBPR – Gian Luigi Banfi, Lodovico Barbiano di Belgiojoso, Enrico Peressutti, Ernesto Nathan Rogers