Palazzo Marino

Piazza della Scala, 2. (Open Map)


Palazzo Marino is a building that presents a summary of Milan’s identity, in the form of culture, art and history. The building has been the seat of the civic administration since 9 September 1861, when the mayor at that time, Antonio Beretta, moved the city hall there. Today it comprises the offices used by the Mayor, the Vice-Mayor, the Presidency of the City Council, the General Secretariat and the General Management of the Municipality.
The building was constructed by architect Galeazzo Alessi for wealthy Genoese trader Tommaso Marino. Work began on 4 May 1558, and many of the most famous sculptors working on the Cathedral were diverted here. In fact Alessi’s design required the most talented artists of the day.
The principal court is of particular interest. Tommaso Marino commissioned a decorative cycle based on heroic gestures and the power of love in its various manifestations. The first subject is developed through the Labours of Hercules, while the second is based on Ovid’s “Metamorphosis.”
The Alessi hall is a noble and sophisticated room, with complex artistic and architectural decoration. It is the room used for ceremonial purposes by the administration, to receive heads of states or monarchs, and councillors gather here before meetings.
The hall also contains the official banner of the Municipality of Milan, depicting the city’s patron saint, Ambrose. At his feet is the legendary half-furred boar, and at the sides, the symbols of Milan’s mediaeval gates.
The Sala dell'Orologio (Clock hall) is also known as the Mayor’s anteroom, and it has an unusual ceiling decoration, which was restored after the serious damage that it underwent during the Second World War.
The antique clock after which the hall is named is above the entrance door. The doors in walnut are set into portals of dark-coloured marble. There are paintings by various artists on the walls. The floor comprises a central area in granitello marble, surrounded by an outer border.
The Sala del Consiglio, the Council hall and the chamber for the city’s government, includes many interesting features. Four large cast bronze chandeliers hang from the ceiling. The city’s emblem, dating to the 12th century, is present, and on each side, there are stylized depictions in marble of the symbols of the six ancient city gates, corresponding to those shown on the banner mentioned above.
In 1947, the façade of Palazzo Marino was covered by large advertising hoardings that concealed the damage caused by the 1943 air-raids. In 1873, the body of Alessandro Manzoni was laid out in Sala Alessi, where the people of the city filed past to pay their last tribute to the great writer. The Sala Verde (Green hall) is so named from the colour of the rich damask covering the walls. It is also known as the Marriage hall, because here, on 4th July 1953, the first civil wedding in Milan was held. The public can watch council meetings from the gallery that looks onto Sala del Consiglio. A motto by Cicero appears in the Sala del Consiglio: “Quae in patribus agentur modica sunto/caussas populi teneto/vis abesto”, or “The things performed in the footsteps of ancestors have to be discreet. The reasons of peoples should be far removed from force”.
The ceiling of the state room now known as Sala Alessi is superbly decorated with frescoes and stucco-work, with subjects such as the “Marriage of Eros and Psyche in the panoply of the Gods.” At the corners, there are the Four Seasons by Aurelio Busso. There are depictions of the Muses, Bacchus, Apollo and Mercury, by Ottavio Semino, in the lower part of the cornice. A fascinating series of bas-reliefs depict the ancient legend of Perseus. The entrances are decorated with busts of Mars and Minerva. All the interiors of Palazzo Marino are interesting, with valuable furnishings and works of art. The halls include Sala delle Tempere, Sala degli Arazzi and Sala degli Affreschi.