Exploring the History of Medicine, Part 3:Milan, Part 3

January 1, 2021


Rotonda della Besana

It is a circular cemetery.

It was built in the early 18th century to bury those who died at the Maggiore Hospital introduced in the previous issue.

The brick building surrounds the San Michele Church in the center in a circular manner.

"Rotonda" means "circular building."

The underground of the circular building is a crypt.

After construction, it is said that about 150,000 people were buried here in about half a century.

Subsequently, it temporarily fell into the hands of the military, but from the late 19th century it became the property of the hospital again and was used as an isolation ward for infectious disease patients and a laundry facility.

In 1940, it became the property of the city of Milan and was restored.

Now it is a place of relaxation with beautiful greenery and flowers.


American Red Cross Hospital

It is a 10-minute walk from the cathedral and is currently a bank.

The writer Ernest Hemingway volunteered for the Italian army's ambulance corps at the age of 18 during World War I.

He was seriously injured by shelling and was admitted to this hospital.

He fell in love with a nurse 7 years older than him whom he met here, but was rejected.

The novel he wrote based on this experience is "A Farewell to Arms."

A plaque with ERNEST HEMINGWAY's name engraved on it is attached to the right end of the building.

By the way, near the hospital, there is a huge arcade called "Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II."

It is the fashion center with brand stores like Prada lined up.

There is a shop called "Cafe Biffi" in this arcade. 

It is said that Hemingway had a pleasant meal with the nurse here.