Via Manzoni 

Via Daniele Manin

Santa Maria Incoronata

Milano,
Italia

The Memphis Movement is the great Italian cultural phenomenon of the 1980s. This phenomenon has revolutionized the creative and commercial logic of the design world. Created on the initiative of Ettore Sottsass and a group of young architects and designers in Milan, Italy.

What I have in common with the Memphis movement is my love for Italian design and the city of Milan. Because Milan is the origin of my father’s family.

The story goes
with Ernesta Agnelli,

my great-grandmother, a relative of the Agnelli family of Fiat. And relative of the Savoia House, although this news for now, I haven`t had the option to confirm.

She ran away from Italy at a very young age with my great-grandfather, Ezelino Guadaroli. They traveled from Italy to South America in the late 1880´s. In my family we used the word «escape» because my grandmother came from a family of old world values. Therefore, they would not accept her relationship with Ezelino, who was married. And that ultimately led to their risky adventure.

They made the transatlantic crossing by boat from Italy to Buenos Aires. And from Argentina, the story says, they crossed by a donkey to Santiago de Chile. They have installed 70 KMS from Santiago, on the coast. They had 9 children. Seven girls and 2 boys. And she never returned to Italy.

However, over the years my aunts often traveled to Italy and Milano. And this has always been a great event. Each time returning to Santiago with gifts for the whole family.

Consequently, Milano is always a special destination for me. My first visit in 1991 and I was a very young girl. On the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the acclaimed debut of Ettore Sottsass & the Memphis at the Salone del Mobile in Milan. The most prestigious furniture fair in the world. But, most of all, the city is the memory of family affairs. 

Ernesta kept always in mind her address. Garibaldi centoundici. She repeated it often in her conversations, and left it as a family mantra.

This street is well known for the milaneses and well located in Milano. Starts at Via della Moscova and finish at the Porta Garibaldi. This historic city gate, known as the Comasina Gate, marked the beginning of the old road to Lake Como and it is another element from Ernesta´s times. This neoclassical arch was built to commemorate the visit of Francis I of Austria in 1825  and used to be the beggining of a winding road to Lake Como.

This monument divides this old neighborghood with the most modern part of the city.

And in between, it is Corso Garibaldi , centoundici. Where Ernestina lived, and todays is replaced by a plain building from the 70´s, probably.

But, what remains exactly the same around, is the Chieve de Santa Maria Incoronata. A beautiful and impoluted church from the gothic period. With a small garden around and country  entrance. Gothic but in a small scale. With a kind of austerity, like my great-grandmother.  

 Nowdays, you can walk all up Corso Garibaldi, cross la Porta Garibaldi and arrive to Corso Como. A short pedestrian street full of galleries, restaurants and terraces that lead you to a modern square. Piazza  Gia Aulenti, named in honor of the famous Italian industrial designer and architect. The Piazza goes on with modern architecture and change it name to Piazza Alvar Aalto and finishing the modern area with Piazza Lina Bo Bardi, A big modern neighborghood, with three diferrent squares, named to honor three important figures of the Italian design.

So, many names and history in Milano. Plus, il Duomo, Vittorio Emanuele II, Da Vinci´s Last supper, Navigli,  Armani, Dolce & Gabbana and la citta della Moda. Whatever; I am overwhelmed with a familiar feeling, and always think of Ernesta and her courageous adventure. She maked me write.

Writing is not hard, no. But, sometimes gets hard when I expose myself a little more than I used to do.

This is my first experience in extensive writing. And I’m trying to keep it simple. For now, I am focusing on writing the events, not do the prose. And as an article in The Economist put it well, «encouraging is the observation that most first drafts are second-rate, so becoming a skilled rewriter is the thing.» So from now on, in order to move forward without embarrassment, I will consider the following chapters as drafts to be rewritten.

Chapter 2

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