Alessandro Manzoni in Milan
  • Europe /
  • Italy /
  • Milan

An itinerary entirely dedicated to Manzoni and to his masterpiece: "I Promessi Sposi" (The Betrothed).

Monumentale Cemetery
Heritage place of interest.
Front view of the cemetery
Famedio's ceiling (by Melancholia~itwiki, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons)
Heritage place of interest.
Heritage place of interest.

The family tranquillity, based on the affection of Enrichetta on which Manzoni had established his daily routine, was shattered from the 1930s onwards. This was the year when the first family bereavements struck him. The first was that of his beloved wife Enrichetta, who died on 25 December 1833 from an illness contracted through her numerous pregnancies. Manzoni’s grief was immense, and it heavily influenced his literary vein. Later, after Enrichetta, Manzoni saw his beloved first-born daughter Giulia die, which aggravated his emotional state even more. 

However, on 2 January 1837, he married Teresa Borri. She, unlike Enrichetta, was endowed with a strong personality and an excellent literary culture. Unfortunately, due to her solid and protective character towards Alessandro, Teresa soon came into conflict with her elderly mother-in-law, which caused further complications to the already fragile family situation. The years followed were still punctuated by the death of many of his loved ones and friends, including Giulia, Manzoni’s beloved mother.

The year 1873 was, however, the last of his life. As previously mentioned, on 6 January, he fell, hitting his head on a step on the way out of the church of San Fedele, causing a head injury. After a few days, Manzoni realised that his intellectual faculties were slowly declining. Finally, on 22 May, he died of meningitis contracted due to the trauma he suffered.

As a final and significant place, we can now admire the renowned Monumental Cemetery of Milan, wherein a respectful atmosphere lays the tomb of Manzoni. This historic place became a burial palace for illustrious figures during the 19th century. In fact, Manzoni rests in an area called Farmedio, whose name derives from “Famae Aedes”, meaning “temple of fame”. Here are also the graves of other famous people, such as Carlo Cattaneo and Giuseppe Verdi.

In “The Betrothed”, the theme of religiosity, which is very well-identified in Manzoni’s character, comes through. The moral of the book is providence, that is, faith in god. What makes it the keystone is the awareness of a happy ending. More specifically, a thousand adventures occur during the novel, full of intrigue and complications. Still, Renzo and Lucia manage to overcome these misfortunes thanks to their benevolent spirits and divine faith. Manzoni’s message clearly hints at his view of reality, which clings to a deep sense of god’s belief.

This route highlights the novel through a deeper connection between literature and history, allowing us to rediscover Milan. Highlighting these places, we can savour the power of literature, a powerful tool that transports us back in time. As a result, we better understand the roots of this town and better appreciate our place today.


1. Lazzaretto

2. Church of San Gregorio

3. Church of San Carlo

4. The riot

5. House of Manzoni

6. Church of San Fedele

7. Monumentale Cemetery