Baggio (district of Milan)
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Quartiere of Milan
Cascina Linterno in Baggio
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The origin of name Baggio is disputed. Some scholars suggest that it might be from a Roman military tower called Badalocum (in Latin, "watch the place"); others have it derive from a toponymy Badia Aggeris, possibly referring to an abbey, which over time was contracted into Badagio and later distorted into Badaglo, then Badaxio, and eventually Baggio.
A settlement in Baggio (most probably of Celts) is reported at least since Roman times. In 221 BC, the territory of modern Baggio and surrounding areas of Trenno, Quarto Cagnino, Quinto Romano and Seguro was conquered by the Romans; they built a watchtower in the most elevated place of the area to control the road to Novara. This place was named "Baggio" in the Middle Ages. The original settlement was destroyed in the Barbarian Invasions.
In 881, a noble man called Tazone refounded the settlement in Baggio; a church dedicated to Saint Apollinaris, with a Lombard-Gothic clocktower, was built on the ruins of the Roman watchtower. During Longobards rule, Baggio became a fara, i.e., a fortified rural community, which in 1162 reportedly granted asylum to Milanese refugees after Frederick I Barbarossa invaded the city. In the same year, a massive monastery was built nearby the church.
Baggio reached its peak of splendour between the 9th and 11th century, under the rule of the eponymous family ("da Baggio", i.e. "from Baggio"; also known as "the Baggi"), when it became an influent political and military centre. The Baggio family was so important that one of its members, Anselmo da Baggio, became Pope, with name Pope Alexander II.
Over the centuries, Baggio remained largely independent of Milan, despite the proximity. In origin, its economy was largely based on agriculture; in the 15th century, when mulberry was introduced in Italy, Baggio specialized in sericulture, and hence also textile production.
At the unification of Italy Baggio became a comune; back then, its area was about 400 hectares and its population about 1,200. In late 19th century, several adjacent towns were gradually annexed to Baggio, namely Sella Nuova, Muggiano, Quarto Cagnino, and Quinto Romano. At the same time, textile factories appeared. The population of the comune grew quickly in the first decades of the 20th century, as a consequence of the overpopulation (and the consequent rise of land prices) in Milan. Baggio reached population 6,100 in 1921 (a notable growth considering the huge loss of lives caused by World War I and the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic). As population increased, Baggio became economically less autonomous, as a large part of its inhabitants actually worked in factories in Milan rather than in Baggio's textile industry. In 1913, the first tramway was established on the "Baggina", the road connecting Baggio to Milan, to facilitate commuting.
A well-known traditional Milanese idiom is và a Bagg a sonà l'ôrghen, that is, "go play the organ in Baggio". The intent of the phrase is roughly equivalent to that of the English phrases "get lost" or "go to hell". This idiom came about as the main church of Baggio used to have the painting of an organ on a wall, supposedly because the church was too poor to afford buying the actual instrument. Thus, "to go play the organ in Baggio" is a meaningless task, which is assigned for the sole purpose of getting rid of the person one assigns it to. Another equivalent Milanese phrase is và a ciapà i ratt, i.e., "go hunt rats".
The district is centered along the main street Via delle Forze Armate, and adjacent to one of Milan's largest city parks, namely Parco delle Cave. Despite the urbanization and industrialization of the 20th century, Baggio retains rural areas and traditional cascine (farmhouses) in its outskirts.
In the late 20th century, Baggio had the reputation of being a degraded area with high crime rates, something that is reflected in local idioms such as "non andare a Baggio se non hai coraggio" ("don't go to Baggio if you're not brave"). The situation has changed over time, especially as a consequence of the development and renewal of the Parco delle Cave city park, which has since become a popular leisure area for the Milanese.
Monuments and landmarksEdit
The most important cascina of Baggio, as well as its prominent monument, is Cascina Linterno, which is said to have been Francesco Petrarca's country house as well as the seat of either a Hospitaller or Templar community. The cascina is protected as a heritage site by FAI and has been declared national monument of Italy.
Baggio also has a number of historical churches, including San Giovanni Bosco, Sant'Anselmo, San Pier Giuliano and Sant'Apollinare (Saint Apollinaris); this has one of the tallest clocktowers in Europe. Another notable clocktower, dating back to the 12th century, is found at the end of Via delle Forze Armate, at the corner with Via Ceriani.
Baggio is also well known for its public library, one of the most prestigious of the Milanese area.
A "historic" bus line (ATM 67) connects Baggio to Milan, going back and forth along Via delle Forze Armate. While the Milan Metro (MM) has no stops in Baggio, there are several bus lines connecting Baggio to the nearest MM stop at Bisceglie.