MA NOI RICOSTRUIREMO. Bombed-out Milan in 1943, in the Intesa Sanpaolo Publifoto Archives
Gallerie d’Italia - Piazza Scala, Milan
9 October - 22 November 2020
Exhibition curated by Mario Calabresi
For images of the exhibition, click the following link: https://bit.ly/3d1JF9d
Milan, 8 October 2020 – From 9 October to 22 November, Gallerie d’Italia – Piazza Scala (Intesa Sanpaolo’s Milan museum) hosts the exhibition “MA NOI RICOSTRUIREMO. Bombed-out Milan in 1943, in the Intesa Sanpaolo Publifoto Archives”. From among more than 3,300 photographs in the Publifoto Archives that reveal the bomb-damaged Milan of the Second World War, Mario Calabresi, curator of the exhibition, has selected 70 shots of eleven symbolic locations in the city – including the church that hosts Leonardo’s Last Supper, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, the basilica of Sant’Ambrogio, Brera, the University of Milan and Piazza Fontana – all devastated by the aerial bombardments of 1943. The photos show a city that has been destroyed yet remains courageous, extremely important shots that reveal the city’s pride and capacity to rise from the ashes. Through this historical account of truly dramatic events, the exhibition sets out to stimulate the city in its current endeavour to restart life in a similar spirit despite the huge differences from that period in terms of the cause of the interruption to normal life, the situations and effects.
“Much has been destroyed, but we will rebuild it all with patience and the most optimistic willpower.” These words from Antonio Greppi, first mayor of Milan after the Liberation, are the greatest and most moving testimony to the hopeful determination of Milan’s residents. “We are relaunching the lives and history of people who can rely only on their own virtues and efforts, and who consider freedom as an essential segue of the conscious fulfilment of their own duties.”
The historical shots are displayed alongside photographs of the same places taken during the Covid lockdown period by Turin-born photographer Daniele Ratti. The pandemic has turned people’s lives upside down and the words of Mayor Greppi may again ring with encouragement for citizens. The exhibition is further enriched by the contribution of Umberto Gentiloni, historian and academic of the La Sapienza university of Rome, on the strategic decision by the Allies to launch a strike on Italy in order to definitively end the rule of Fascism in August 1943 (just a few days after the fall of Mussolini), and a map of the city revealing the areas most badly-hit by the bombing.
The exhibition is the first event in the project ‘Journey into the Intesa Sanpaolo Publifoto Archives’ which sets out to introduce the photographic heritage to the public. The Intesa Sanpaolo Publifoto Archives, purchased by the Bank in 2015, now include around seven million analogue photographs (mostly in black and white) covering news stories, politics, traditions and ways of life, society, culture, sport, landscapes and architecture. The photos were taken between the 1930s and 1990s in Italy and abroad, by photojournalists of the famous Italian agency and by photographers or other agencies that turned to Publifoto for distribution purposes. The Archives form part of the Intesa Sanpaolo Group’s Historical Archives which, with over 13 km in length of historical documents, are one of the primary sources of economic history in Europe - comprising papers, images, items and videos dating from 1472 to 2006. Founded in 1984 as the Historical Archives of Banca Commerciale Italiana, today they coordinate safeguarding and promotion in the various regions of origin of the historical archives of banks that have merged with Intesa Sanpaolo, and actively partner with leading archival networks and institutions. The photographic collections belonging to Intesa Sanpaolo will receive due recognition in the upcoming fourth site of Gallerie d’Italia, due to open in piazza San Carlo in Turin (2022).
Giovanni Bazoli, President Emeritus of Intesa Sanpaolo, said: “The historic shots from the Publifoto Archives, selected by Mario Calabresi, and the contemporary photograph collection show us a Milan which, despite being severely damaged, does not give up but works on rebuilding itself. Today, as in the past, Intesa Sanpaolo confirms its commitment to using culture as a driving force for the city and entire country. This is the goal of the research and promotion initiatives dedicated to our roots and origins, thanks to the use of the Publifoto Archives, an invaluable heritage of the collective memory.”
Mario Calabresi, curator of the exhibition, said: “The Publifoto Archives are a wonderful vessel of memories of the twentieth century, capable of showing us the strength with which we got back on our feet so many times. In a moment in which Milan and Italy are facing a new challenge - not of bombs and open-fire, but a silent and invisible enemy - remembering what we have faced and survived in the past can restore our firm hope and optimism.”
The entire section of photographs on bombed-out Milan - around 3,300 images belonging to the Intesa Sanpaolo Publifoto Archives - has been catalogued by the Historical Archives. All the images have been digitised, furnished with descriptive cards and made available for free consultation online at
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Exhibition MA NOI RICOSTRUIREMO. Bombed-out Milan in 1943, in the Intesa Sanpaolo Publifoto Archives
9 October - 22 November 2020
Gallerie d’Italia - Piazza Scala, Piazza della Scala 6, Milan
From 9 to 29 October, entrance from Via Manzoni 10; from 30 October onwards, entrance from Piazza della Scala 6
From Tuesday to Sunday 11am - 7pm (last admission at 5.30pm)
From 9 to 29 October 2020, full-price 5 euro; reduced 3 euro; free admission for customers of the Intesa Sanpaolo Group, pass holders, schools and under 18s;
from 30 October to 22 November, full-price 10 euro; reduced 8 euro; special reduction 5 euro for customers of the Intesa Sanpaolo Group and under 26s; free admission for pass holders, schools, and under 18s
About Intesa Sanpaolo
Intesa Sanpaolo is one of the most solid and profitable banks in Europe, providing wealth management, consumer banking, corporate and investment banking, asset management and insurance. As the market leader in Italy, Intesa Sanpaolo serves nearly 12 million customers through digital and traditional channels. The Group’s international subsidiary banks provide for an additional 7.2 million customers in Central Eastern Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. Intesa Sanpaolo is recognized as one of the most sustainable banks in the world.
The Group believes that value creation should be interpreted broadly, supporting social purpose and driving the real economy. As part of its commitment to sustainable growth, Intesa Sanpaolo has created a €5 billion financing facility dedicated to the circular economy. The Group’s large-scale project for economic inclusion and poverty alleviation includes a Fund for Impact to provide €1.2 billion in loans to those parts of society that find access to credit difficult. Intesa Sanpaolo is deeply committed to cultural initiatives that it promotes on its own and together with partners in Italy and abroad, including permanent and temporary exhibits of the vast artistic patrimony at the Gallerie d’Italia, the Group’s three museums located in Milan, Naples and Vicenza.
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Last updated 12 October 2020 at 15:10