I used to live in Milan many years ago. While everyone knows Milan’s famous Duomo, and I never fail to visit when I’m back, I also made a point to get back to my second favorite Milanese church on my last visit. San Ambrogio.
San Ambrogio is a must of any trip to Milan. San Ambrogio is Milan’s patron saint. His feast day on 7 December is a city holiday, and its most anticipated event is the opening gala that opens the official opera season at Milan’s prestigious La Scala theatre.
San Ambrogio arrived in the Lombard settlement from Trier in the 4th century. He would become the Bishop of Milan and was instrumental in convincing Emperor Theodosius to accept Christianity as the official religion of the Roman Empire.
In 397, his remains were interred in the church. The urn containing his bones can be found in the crypt of the high altar.
The basilica grew in subsequent years, and its current Romanesque style (considered the most impressive in Lombardy) is from the 12th century. Back then, the basilica’s location was on the outskirts of the city, but modern-day Milan has grown all around it and today’s Sant’Ambrogio is decidedly central Milan.
he basilica has two bell towers: the Torre dei monaci (Monks’ Tower), built in the 9th century and the second tower, built in 1144.
Sadly, the basilica was badly damaged in Allied bombing during World War II, but has been repaired. Don’t miss the stunning San Ambrogio on your next visit to Milan.