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“It was the year...”

The story of the Duomo through the Annals

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10 January Jan 2020 1057 10 January 2020

Duomo di Milano, the religious and lay symbol of the city, is the outcome of a centuries long history of individuals, decisions and projects through which Veneranda Fabbrica del Duomo, the historical institution appointed to construct and preserve this monument, has pursued its mission since 1387 for more than six centuries, despite difficulties and the many threads of History.

In the latter half of the 1800s, Veneranda Fabbrica, by then fully aware of the importance of its work and of its mission, decided to author a monumental work, the synthesis of this history: the Annals of Fabbrica del Duomo. A monumental collection that, step by step, relates the main events of this long path journeyed with courage, farsightedness and marble. The information presents considerable differences, certifying the diversified activities of Veneranda fabbrica del Duomo which, though primarily committed to the construction of the cathedral, is also present in many other contexts, including city life and the urban and suburban setting.

The main other duty was to manage the Candoglia marble quarries, the historical "resource of the Duomo". They were donated by Gian Galeazzo Visconti to the Fabbrica in 1387 to make use of a magnificent and exclusive marble for the construction of the huge Monument. Besides, browsing through the pages of the Annals, we understand the Fabbrica’s leading role in the city’s life, spanning coordination of commercial areas in the historical city centre to maintenance of waterways.

Reading the Annals is certainly the starting point for an investigation of the Duomo’s history.
In fact, the main source of this information can be found in the Clerical Orders or in the minutes of that which is currently called the Board of Directors, but was once the "Chapter of Veneranda Fabbrica del Duomo” until the late 1800s.
This crucial source of the Institution’s history is joined, in the draft of the Annals, by many accounts, especially payment orders, which certify the execution of all the architectural and decorative works.

Leafing through these books is certainly not an exclusive privilege of expert scholars on the subject. Indeed, the Annals are a fascinating diary of both the Duomo and of Milan, an interesting source of information for whoever wishes to investigate the events. Hence, Fabbrica del Duomo provides this work free of charge on the official website, with the intention of returning, both to the City and to the world, an essential part of the collective memory.