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The Devil Abode

Legend has it that the devil lived in Milan, with his own house at Palazzo Acerbi, in Corso Di Porta Romana n.3.

<p>(G.dallorto, Attribution, via Wikimedia Commons)</p>

In Corso di Porta Romana 3, we can see Palazzo Acerbi, a palace owned by the senator and marquis Ludovico Acerbi. He was a well-off Milanese character and used to organise receptions, banquets and parties of great luxury.

Palazzo Acerbi (by Melancholia, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons)

Parties and gatherings well attended by the Milanese contrasted with one of Milan’s saddest periods, the spread of the plague in 1630 CE. The disease sowed death and sadness everywhere in the city’s streets while musical notes came out of the windows of Palazzo Acerbi to accompany parties and social gatherings.

Despite this outlandish and blatant lifestyle, no one present at the parties ever fell ill with the terrible disease, so the Milanese regarded the palace as the home of the devil.

Image depicting the desperate situation in Milan during the plague.

What convinced the Milanese that the palace really was the devil’s abode was a bombing on 20 March 1848 during ‘The Five Days of Milan’, in which an Austrian cannonball hit the facade of Palazzo Acerbi, sticking into the wall and causing practically no damage. For the Milanese, this confirmed that only a wicked house could be immune to such calamities.

It is still possible today to see the cannonball stuck in the wall next to the first balcony to the right of the entrance door and a plaque bearing the event’s date.

(by Lalupa, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Ptolemy Team
Last updated on
November 17, 2022

Ptolemy Team

All our content is conceived and written by our editorial team, consisting of students and recent graduates in Cultural Heritage, Ancient and Medieval History, and Arts.