In terms of architecture, the loggia boasts seven bays on its main sides and two on its lesser sides, all sporting round or acute arches. The more recent vaults date back to 1771-1773 when the wooden ceiling was replaced. Between these arches, interested visitors will come across two renowned reliefs. The first is a bas-relief of the scrofa semilanuta (half-woolly sow), a mythical creature, a cross between a boar and a ram and Milan’s emblem since the Middle Ages – according to legend, this fascinating beast dates back all the way to the city’s foundation. The second work of art, a high relief by sculptor Benedetto Antelami, depicts Oldrado da Tresseno, an Italian politician and Milan’s mayor sometime during the 13th century, who ordered the construction of the palace itself.

Loggia dei Mercanti

In 1952, tombstones were placed on the porch pillars to commemorate the city’s fallen who lost their lives during the war of national liberation. Nowadays, the loggia enjoys a busy calendar and hosts several cultural events throughout the year while the Palazzo della Ragione serves as a venue for temporary exhibitions. In addition, this space sparked the foundation of Milan’s Critical Mass movement in 2002, a global cycling event originating in San Francisco a decade earlier, which has since spread to all corners of the world. Here, in northern Italy, bike enthusiasts meet at the loggia ever Thursday at 10 pm to reclaim the streets and promote pedal power.

At the same time, the structure also comes with an intriguing acoustic effect. When two people stand inside the portico’s opposite corners, facing the columns, and start to speak, sing, whistle or simply make some noise, the vibrations will carry their message all the way to the other side of the arches. As the story goes, traders would use this trick to exchange important messages. So, if you pass through Milan, make sure to try this trick at least once!

Finally, after all your explorations, take a break and sit down, watch the flow of tourists and locals through the city centre and imagine all the history and magic that has touched this evocative place.

Loggia_Scrofa semilanuta