Tag Archives: Basilica of Sant’Eustorgio

Buon Natale and Christmas: Feast of Saint Ambrose and Holiday Events in Milan Italy

Milan was founded by the Gauls in the early 4th century B.C. and grew rapidly following the Roman conquest in 222 B.C.  By 1277, Archbishop Otto Visconti imposed hegemony over the city and 130 years of Visconti rule ensued.

Gian Galeazzo Visconti (1351-1402) was a generous patron of the arts and initiated the construction of the magnificent Gothic Duomo made of white marble with 135 spires www.duomomilano.it.

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Christmas officially kicks off on December 7, better known as the local holiday that celebrates St. Ambrogio, Milan’s patron saint. The season always opens with the “O Bej, O Bej” Christmas market.

December 7th is the Feast Day of Saint Ambrose, the Patron Saint of Milan. He was born in 339 and consecrated as the Bishop of Milan on December 7, 374. He served as the Bishop until his death in 397.

This eloquent bishop was instrumental in spreading Christianity.

The lighting of the big Christmas tree in Piazza del Duomo marks the official beginning of the Christmas festivities. Spectacular lighting festivities are set up throughout Milan, from Piazza della Scala to the vault of Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.

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Crypt of bishop Ambrose and two marthyrs, Sain...

Crypt of bishop Ambrose and two marthyrs, Saints Gervase and Protase. Basilica of Sant’Ambrogio, Milan. (bodies aren’t totally sharp because they are behind a bad quality sheet glass) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)Christianity and you can visit his mortal remains in the crypt of the Basilica of Sant’Ambroglio.

Drawing based on a statue of St. Ambrose

Drawing based on a statue of St. Ambrose 

Saint Ambrose is also the Patron Saint of Bologna. St. Ambrose is one of my favorites because he is the Patron Saint of learning and students. The “Honey-Tongued Doctor” is portrayed with a beehive and bees in his iconography which symbolizes wisdom. He is also the patron saint of  candle-makers and bee keepers.

The “Fiera di Sant’Ambroglio” is the city’s antique fair and takes place in Piazza Sant’Ambrogio from December 7-22. This event coincides with “The Fiera degli Oh Bej-Oh Bej.”  This is a traditional annual outdoor street market held in Milan to honor Saint Ambrose from December 5th to the 8th. For 400 years it was held in front of the Basilica of Sant’Ambrogio, built by Ambrose between 379-386 which is one of the oldest churches in Milan.

Benefattori dell'Ospedale: i Duchi della Milan...

Benefattori dell’Ospedale: i Duchi della Milano quattrocentesca (Francesco Sforza e Bianca Maria Visconti) nell’atto di donare al Papa (Pio II Piccolomini) il bozzetto dell’erigenda Ca’ Granda (Photo credit: renagrisa)



This year the Festival will be held in The Square in front of Castello Sforzesco on Via Dante. Francesco Sforza, husband of Bianca Maria Visconti, became lord of the city in 1450. He ruled from the imposing Castello Sforzesco fortress until 1535. Today, the castle serves as a museum. Francesco Sforza built the present castle where the Visconti castle originally stood. The palace contains several art museums. The Torre del Carmine serves to enclose the fortress of the Visconti family. Michelangelo’s famous “Rondanini Pieta” (1564) can be admired in the Castello Sforzesco.

Mercatino di Natale - Duomo di Milano, photo credits Shutterstock

Castello Sforzesco

Castello Sforzesco (Photo credit: viiruone)

Mangia and have a “Vino con Vista” at the festival Mercatino di Natale – Duomo di Milano, where you buy interesting gifts from many stalls and can enjoy a porchetta sandwich, cioccolato con panna montala (hot chocolate) and some “Vino Brule” (mulled wine).

WHEN:  Nov 25th until January 10th, 2020

Here’s a recipe for Vino Brule

A bottle of red wine

1/3 cup sugar

3 cloves

1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg

1 stick of cinnamon

1 lemon peel

Stir wine over medium heat. Add sugar to dissolve. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil until sugar is completely dissolved. Salute!!

The Teatro alla Scala in Milan, by night

The Teatro alla Scala in Milan, by night (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

December 7th is the official opening of the Opera Season in Milan at Teatro alla Scala which opened in 1778. Visit the Museo Teatrale that features vintage opera posters and a remarkable array of opera costumes. For tickets visit:  www.teatroallascala.org

Attend the Epiphany Parade of the Three Kings from the Duomo to the Church of Sant’Eustorgio on January 6th.

Milano castello sforzesco natale

Milano castello sforzesco natale 

Milan has an interesting wine bar called La Cantina di Manuela on via Cadore with outdoor tables for people-watching or a nightcap. Try a Rosso della Costa Collina del Milanese or Bianco dell Costa Collina dell Milanese with some Castel Magno cheese. The Lombardy region’s specialty wine is fizzy Franciacorta. Most of the wineries in Lombardy are outside the heavily industrialized city limits in towns located between the Alps and the Apennines including Bergamo, Sondrio, Brescia, Pavia and Mantua.

Milan Duomo

Bloomingdale’s Christmas Treen Natale and Happy Holidays from www.vino-con-vista.com

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