The history of the Sempione park began centuries ago, specifically back in 1392, when Gian Galeazzo Visconti, the Duke of Milan, ordered to surround the whole area with an extensive moat to safeguard the game. From that date till now, many curiosities and legends have been related to this beautiful oasis in the center of Milan.
Here are some of the most important that you should know about this artistic, historical, and naturalistic journey inside the Park.
1. The Park, for over a century, was a wood of over 300 hectares, enriched by the Sforza family in 1400. It consisted mainly of oak and chestnut trees and it was inhabited by exotic animals.
2. In the late 1500s, after the fall of the Milanese Duchy of the Sforza Family due to the Spanish domination, the Park was used partially for agriculture, and partially as military training ground – until 1861.
3. The park project was entrusted in 1888 to the architect Emilio Alemagna, inspired by the romantic model of English parks with tree-lined avenues and ponds.
4. In 1906, the Park hosted the EXPO and in 1933 saw the construction of the Palazzo dell’Arte (Triennale). The Park is home to several sculptures, including the equestrian monument to Napoleon III and Antonio Paradiso’s History of the Earth works, Fernandez’s Musical Accumulation, and Giorgio de Chirico’s Mysterious Baths.
5. In the last months of the Second World War, the city was a victim of famine, and it became increasingly difficult to feed the citizens. It was decided, then, to sow the Sempione park with potatoes while sunflowers were placed on the sides.
6. In January 2011, the Park was the scene of a Cross-Country Skiing World Cup trial. On this occasion, snow from the Alps rested next to the natural snow resulting from severe snowfalls.
7. Among the urban legends, the ghost of the Black Lady is highlighted: on foggy evenings, when Parco Sempione is empty, it would happen to smell violets, and the ghostly figure of the lady would appear dressed in a long black dress and veiled in the face. It is said that she would lure handsome young men into leading them to a remote place where they would be victims of madness after mating.