Italy - Region of Magenta




Magenta town, Lombardia (Lombardy) regione, northern Italy, just west of Milan. Its name is derived from that of Marcus Maxentius, a Roman general and emperor (AD 306–312) who had his headquarters there at Castra Maxentia. The town was the site of the Battle of Magenta (June 4, 1859), fought during the Franco-Piedmontese war against the Austrians (second War of Italian Independence, 1859–61). Contemporary Magenta is a communications center between Milan and Turin; its chief industries are the manufacture of matches, cotton and artificial silk, and machinery. Pop. (2006 est.) mun., 23,354.

Main sights:

Ø Church of San Martino, built to commemorate the dead of the 1859 battle
Ø Monastery of Santa Maria Assunta, probably dating from the 14th century. The church, of
Ø Monastery of Santa Maria Assunta, probably dating from the 14th century. The church, of Romanesque origin but with Baroque interiors, houses two works by il Bergognone (1501, once attributed to Bernardino Luini’s workshop).
Ø Church of San Rocco (early 16th century)
Ø Casa Crivelli Boisio Beretta, an example of 15th-century noble house
Ø Casa Giacobbe
Ø Monument to general Patrice de MacMahon
Ø La Fagiana natural park, a former hunting resort of King Victor Emmanuel II.

Historical Heritage: Battle of Magenta


The city of Magenta is a one of the most important cities of south-western nearby Metropolitan City of Milan, of Roman formation, fortified at least since the fourteenth century, today a lively productive town.

It remained in history for the battle which in 1859 decided the fate of Lombardy linking it to the unification of Italy happening in that time. Battle of Magenta, (June 4, 1859), engagement between France and Austria in the Franco-Piedmontese war during the second war of Italian independence (1859–61). French ruler Emperor Napoleon III had allied himself with the kingdom of Piedmont, intending to drive the Austrians out of northern Italy. Moving 130,000 men to Italy by train-the first mass movement of troops by railroad-Napoleon III then ran into a chaotic encounter with the Austrians at Magenta. The outcome was a narrow French victory. Finally, the town fell and the Austrian army retreated.

The scene of the fighting was Magenta, 12 miles (19 km) west of Milan, in Austrian-dominated northern Italy.

Monument to the fallen and the Park of the Battle





Not far from the Milan-Turin railway line, there is today a shrine dedicated to the fallen of the Battle of Magenta (1859). The structure, built in a large park, consists of a massive, severe-looking obelisk. It is composed of four equal facades looking at the four cardinal points.

The works, which began in 1861, were completed in 1872 when all the bones of the fighters scattered along the elevation of the railway were collected and placed definitively in the basement of the monument. A beautiful stone staircase leads to the entrance doors. 

The complex was inaugurated in 1904 by Vittorio Emanuele III and in 2009, on the occasion of the 150 years of the battle it was completely renovated with the surrounding park.

The Church of San Martino



The Church of San Martino commonly known as Magenta’s Basilica is the main Catholic place of worship in Magenta city, district of Milan. The building had to fulfill two main duties: answer to the need to give citizens a new church and to commemorate the fallen of the glorious battle of June 4, 1859, for the independence of Italy. The project of the church, dedicated to Saint Martin of Tours and Saint Joachin, was committed to the architect Alfonso Parrocchetti who designed it with a neo-Renaissance style, set on a wider central aisle and two narrower and lower lateral ones, having length of 87 meters, transept’s length of 30 meters and dome’s height of 57 meters. Magenta’s basilica is the widest in the diocese after Milan’s Duomo.

The construction of the structure was completed in 1901, allowing the celebration of the first Holy Mass on an improvised altar. Saint Martin’s Basilica was consecrated on October 1903, by Cardinal Andrea Ferrari, who forbade keeping the bones of the fallen soldiers inside the church, moving against one of the main reasons why the Basilica was erected.

Ticino Natural Park



Lombard Park of the Ticino Valley, located in Magenta, as the first regional park in Italy, was founded in 1974, being strongly characterized by the river and its valley. The Ticino Valley represents an area with high biodiversity, where a great variability of environments corresponds to an admirable variety habitat with numerous species of animals and plants. The presence of numerous fountains, large hydraulic works, ancient cultivation systems and other elements that characterize the agricultural landscape constitute a constant and highly panoramic reference in the Ticino Valley. The Ticino river has always been a natural border between civilizations, nations, peoples, rulers, who have abundantly fortified this strategic area especially with watchtowers and castles. In 2020 Ticino Valley has been declared Biosphere Reserve by MAB Unesco. 

The Naviglio Grande



The Naviglio Grande is a completely artificial canal, which derived its waters from the Ticino river. The Naviglio Grande is the most important of the Milanese canals and was the first of its kind to be built in Europe. Its origins date back between 1152 and 1157. The Naviglio Grande was in fact the privileged highway for transporting the heavy blocks of marble that were taken from the mountains to be processed and used for the construction of the Duomo of Milan starting in 1385. Many professionals and important people worked on the various Navigli system implementation projects. Among these also the well-known Leornardo da Vinci. Leonardo worked and studied not only in Milan, but in Vigevano and Pavia, along the course of the Adda and Martesana, on the Naviglio Grande and in the Lombard valleys.

Historical Evocation in the Park of the Battle





Magenta is famous in Italy and worldwide for the historic Battle of June 4, 1859, episode of the Second War of Independence in Italy fought between the Austrians and the Franco-Piedmontese.

This event marked one of the most significant pages in the history of our city, a history that links Magenta to the Italian Risorgimento and therefore to the whole of Italy.

The Battle of Magenta is remembered in fact as an important stage in the history of our country for the conquest of Independence and for the realization of the Unification of Italy.

In fact, without the victory of the Franco-Piedmontese in Magenta which paved the way for the liberation of Milan from Austrian domination, the history of Italy would perhaps have been different.

Every year Magenta remembers this important historical episode with celebrations that have now established themselves as an event that combines history and culture with the values of friendship, solidarity and brotherhood between peoples.

An event animated by the desire to strengthen our national identity and, above all, the European one, underlining the strong common roots that unite the Peoples who faced each other during the Risorgimento.

Celebrations that have become over the years an event of absolute importance for our city, the Lombardy Region and for our country so as to attract thousands of people to Magenta together with authorities representing the countries that fought in 1859.

The celebrations have their moment culminating in the historical re-enactment in period costume and salvos of the Battle of 1859.

Immaterial Cultural Patrimony

San Biagio’s Fair

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Every year, on February 3, the traditional Fair of Goods and Livestock takes place, whose roots are lost in past centuries. In the morning, the market square offers a vast sample of agricultural machines while the adjacent streets are crammed with a huge number of stalls, among which those of gastronomy based on “pulenta and pisitt” stand out. Typical dish of the day is the “busecca”, enjoyed in all the restaurants. After Mass on February 3, the priest standing in the presbytery places two candles crossed under the chin in contact with the throat to each of the faithful who, one at a time, pass in front of him and kneel. To each one he gives the blessing with the words: «By the intercession of San Biagio, Bishop and Martyr, God free you from the evil of the throat and from any other evil. In the name of the Father, the son and the Holy Spirit. So be it”. In the “Milanese” tradition, the gesture of blessing the throat was updated by eating a piece of the panettone, the first slice cut at Christmas and kept for the occasion.

San Rocco’s Fair

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The anniversary of San Rocco, on August 16, Magenta hosts a centuries-old tradition fair. One of the churches in the city is dedicated to the saint. The fair, now merchandised differentially, maintains an agricultural sector as it was the original feature. In mid-August the rural activity slowed down before the harvest. It was, and still is, an opportunity to buy small farmyard animals to breed for the following Christmas. Even today the Fair sees the great participation of the public that, coming from all over the Magentino, Abbiatense, Castanese and Novarese, swarms among the hundreds of stalls that occupy the market area and the entire historic center. At noon, then, everyone goes in the Clubs and in the trattorias for a plate of good tripe or cassoeula with duck, despite the heat of August.

Culinary traditions

Risotto alla Milanese


One of the most famous dishes eaten in Magenta based on rice is the “Risotto alla Milanese”. The first recipes mentioning the dish appear in cookbooks starting in the 1800s, in contradiction the legend that attributes the origin of this famous Lombard dish to a joke: it is said that in 1574, the daughter of master glassmaker Valerio of Flanders was to be married to her father’s assistant, whom Valerio had nicknamed ‘Zafferano’ because the young man liked the ingredient so much he put it everywhere, and even it to stain the glass gold of Milan’s Cathedral. Friends of Zafferano prepared a dish of rice colored with saffron as a joke, and the dish was so successful none of it was left.



Another classic of Magenta’s culinary tradition is the Cassöeula.

The peculiarity of this dish is that each family, especially grandmothers, have his own and secret recipe! Cassöeula is an elaborate, high-calorie dish made from pork and cabbage. Variously known as cassouela, cazzoeura (derived from “cazza”, pan), its name refers to the casserole dish in which it is prepared.

While not exactly delighting lovers of culinary nuance and sophisticated combinations of flavours, its strong, decisive flavour makes it a real winter warmer of a dish. Cabbage firmed by a good frost, tomato purée, lots of onion, celery, chopped carrots, black pepper and pork meat in every form: ribs, sausage, tails and trotters.


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Thirty centimetres tall and mounted by a dome, Panettone, the typical Milanese sweet has predominated on the table at Christmas from the 15th century because of its softness and elegance. In the past, it was a typical Christmas sweet used exclusively by the Milanese and today it can be found on tables throughout the world. Garnished with raisins or candied fruits, the Panettone is today one of the most loved Christmas sweets. In Magenta, and all around the territory, it is custom to eat Panettone on the 3rd of February, on the holiday of Saint Blaise, patron saint of the City. According to legend, Saint Blaise saved a young man who was choking on a fish bone and hence became the protector of throats. Following the legend, eating Panettone on this day and jointly pray for Saint Blaise will protect people from having sore throat all year long.