February 3: Saint Biagio’s Panettone

February 3th is the day dedicated to the holy protector of the throath, Saint Biagio (known in English as Saint Blaise). Saint Biagio worship is widely spread in the Christian world, especially the area of Milan, Varese, Como, various areas of Piedmont but also in Southern Italy, where locals have been devoted to this Saint for centuries. But why is he a protector of the throat and not, for example, the stomach or other parts or body? Historically, Saint Biagio was physician and bishop of the Armenian city of Sebaste…

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Centuries of history and miracles: the beautiful Laorca Cemetery

The Laorca cemetery is located in the Laorca district north of Lecco, region of Lombardy, in Northern Italy, and has developed around the caves and the ancient church of St John the Baptist (also called Chiesa ai Morti, “Church to the dead”) in Laorca. In 2011, together with Monumental Cemetery of Lecco, it was included in the “European Cemeteries Route” that is the European itinerary of monumental cemeteries. It is in fact inserted in a unique natural context, and it is a jewel of art and nature. The environment is…

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The curious history of the Milan area that remained immune to the plague: an eccentric marquis, a witch or simply coal?

Before 1630 Milan had over one hundred thousand inhabitants. In 1632 there were forty-seven thousand. In the middle there was the most violent plague epidemic in the history of the city. In the peak period, the so-called “black death” killed nearly 1000 people a day. The Italian Plague of 1629–1631 was a series of outbreaks of bubonic plague which ravaged northern and central Italy. Often referred to as the Great Plague of Milan, it claimed possibly one million lives, or about 25% of the population. Historically, it seems that German…

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