Porta Romana | Piazza Medaglie D’Oro

by Federico Parolotto

Porta Romana was the gateway between Corso di Porta Romana, leading to the city centre, and the road connecting Milan to Rome. The gate was built in the Spanish city walls in the 16th century, and served as a monumental access to the city until – as was the case in several other European cities – the walls were taken down to accommodate the city’s growth.

Porta Romana in 1796

The old city gate – the porta- still exists, while the fornici – the two lateral openings- have been demolished to make space for the large traffic flows that now occupy a vast space in what has become a huge, signalised roundabout.

aerial view of Porta Romana and piazza Medaglie d'oro

It seems incredible that the small opening of the door was sufficient to cater to all of the flows moving into and out of the city, when now it is lost in an immense space dedicated to vehicular movement. This space – like almost all of Milan’s open spaces- is entirely subject to the flow of cars. It ignores pedestrian desire lines and prioritises vehicular movement, with traffic phasing also centred on the car.

The old gateway to the city, framed within relentless channels of vehicular movement, not only recalls the city’s past but also evokes the need to restore a pedestrian-friendly dimension to its future.

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