San Vittore Prison

Coordinates: 45°27′43″N 9°09′56″E / 45.461937°N 9.165688°E / 45.461937; 9.165688

San Vittore is a prison in the city center of Milan, Italy. Its construction started in 1872 and opened on 7 July 1879. The prison has place for 600 inmates, but it had 1036 prisoners in 2017.[1]

External walls


The construction of the new prison was decided after the Italian unification, together with other infrastructure improvement works in Milan in the period between the unification and the city's first town plan of 1889. Until then, prisoners were detained in several other structures not designed as prisons, among them the former Sant'Antonio Abate convent, in the Courthouse and in the former San Vittore convent.

For the construction of the new structure the government acquired terrains in the outskirts of the city, in a sparsely developed area at that time. The building, designed by the engineer Francesco Lucca, takes inspiration from the 18th century Panopticon, with 6 wings with three floors each. The perimeter walls were originally built in medieval style, but they have almost all been rebuilt with modern standards for security reasons.

Fascism occupationEdit

During Fascism occupation the San Vittore Prison was used as a house for every enemy (political or war enemy). Since Germans took over the power in Italy, in 1943, a lot of changes happened in the prison, until the big riots happened in April 1946.[2]

German occupationEdit

During the German occupation in World War II (1943 – 1945) the prison was partly subject to German jurisdiction, with the SS in control of one of the wings. The prison gained notoriety during the war through the inhumane treatment of inmates by the SS guards and the torture carried out there. On 10 August 1944 15 captured partisans held at the prison, hand picked by Theo Saevecke, head of the Gestapo in Milan, were publicly executed at Piazzale Loreto and left on display, as a reprisal for a partisan attack on a German military convoy.[3]

The prisons served as a way station for Jews arrested in northern Italy, which would be brought to San Vittore Prison and, from there, to Milano Centrale railway station, from where they would be loaded into freight cars on a secret track underneath the station.[4]

On March 9 2020 inmates climbed onto the roofs and set fire to cells amid chaos in prisons sparked by the government new restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[5]

Notable inmatesEdit


  1. ^ "Sovraffollamento carcere, scatta lo sciopero a San Vittore". Il Giorno Milano. Retrieved 10 October 2019.
  2. ^ John, Foot (1998). "The tale of San Vittore: Prisons, politics, crime and fascism in Milan, 1943–1946". Modern Italy. John Foot. 3: 25–48. doi:10.1080/13532949808454790.
  3. ^ "Mailand" (in German). Gedenkorte Europa 1939–1945. Retrieved 11 September 2018.
  4. ^ Bridget Kevane (29 June 2011). "A Wall of Indifference: Italy's Shoah Memorial". The Jewish Daily Retrieved 3 October 2018.
  5. ^ "Caos nelle carceri per il coronavirus, 6 morti a Modena per overdose: aperta indagine. Fiamme a San Vittore e Prato. Fuga dei detenuti a Foggia". 9 March 2020.


  • Chiara Bricarelli (a cura di), Una gioventù offesa. Ebrei genovesi ricordano
  • Luigi Borgomaneri, Hitler a Milano: crimini di Theodor Saevecke capo della Gestapo, Roma, Datanews, 1997.
  • E. Grottanelli, L'amministrazione comunale di Milano e la costruzione del carcere di San Vittore, in "Storia in Lombardia" quadrimestrale dell'Istituto lombardo per la storia del movimento di liberazione in Italia, Milano, Franco Angeli Editore, anno IV, n. 2, 1985.
  • Antonio Quatela, "Sei petali di sbarre e cemento", Mursia Editore, Milano, 2013.