Besana roundabout

Via Enrico Besana, 12. (Open Map)


The Rotonda della Besana is one of the more unusual visits in the city. This is an ideal location for visitors on foot, who wish to dedicate a reasonable amount of time to their exploration. Unusual, romantic, mysterious. Ideal for those with a sense of curiosity, because from outside it is impossible to guess what lies inside. It is like a precious jewel, appreciated because it is hidden between the traffic and modern buildings of everyday Milan.The monument is an example of 18th century culture, with its characteristic artistic and architectural originality. Its curving forms can be appreciated both from above and from the inside, in its gardens. The Rotonda comprises the church of San Michele (or San Michele “ai Nuovi Sepolcri”), whose building began 1713, with works finishing in 1725. It is surrounded by a circular portico and surmounted by a central octagonal cupola. The Rotonda’s intricate structure of vaults and columns has become an evocative location for events. It is also a place for socializing, and in summer it is used for open-air cinema projections open to the general public. A place worth discovering and experiencing.The construction of the Rotonda began in 1695 and it was known as “Foppone”, that is the hospital cemetery for the deceased of the Cà Grande (the hospital Ospedale Maggiore that is today Universtà Statale or State University). It occupied the terrain situated at the foot of the city walls. There are many – their exact number is uncertain – very deep crypts under the paving of the portico surrounding the church. These were tombs in which corpses were packed before being sealed: the number of people buried here up to 1782 reached 150,000. Only in the 19th century was the area reclaimed.In 1808, the Viceroy of Italy, Eugenio di Beauharnais, indicated his desire to appoint this place as the kingdom’s Pantheon where the illustrious men of Italy could be buried. However, the project was never realized following the fall of Napoleon.