The complex consisting of the Arco della Pace and the Caselli Daziari always held a privileged place among the places that best represent the city of Milan. This particular link with the city is established since the first temporary structure, built in 1806 on a project by Luigi Cagnola. That Arch in canvas and wood celebrated the marriage between Eugene of Beauharnais, viceroy of Italy and adopted son of Napoleon Bonaparte and Augusta of Bavaria.
The appreciation was so great that it was decided to rebuild it in marble to eternalize the memory of Napoleon’s exploits and to redesign the space through the construction of two customs toll booths with a particular passing typology. The construction of the complex also continued with the arrival of the Austrians. Francis I of Austria decided, in fact, to complete the complex and to dedicate the Arch to Peace between nations. It was inaugurated on September 10th, 1838 in the presence of Ferdinand I. From that moment on, the Arco della Pace and the Toll Boxes in Piazza del Sempione were the battle scene for the independence of Milan from the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In 1859, the Arco del Sempione marked the triumphal entry into Milan of Napoleon III and King Vittorio Emanuele II of Italy. The two toll booths ceased their function with the dismissal of the customs system in 1873.
Later they became a place of memory of the liberation from the Nazi regime and still today accompany the Milanese in the development of the history of the city. Peace watches them from above, driving his chariot to which six horses are yoked.
The two Toll booths are perfectly symmetrical with respect to the axis of the Simplon Arch, which is configured as a real city gate.
The entire structure is in Baveno granite, clad in Crevola d’Ossola stone. Each column has a life-size figure: towards the city there are Minerva, Mars, Apollo and Hercules towards the Vigilanza, Storia, Poesia and Lombardia countryside.
The Arch is surmounted by the sixth of Peace that welcomes Minerva. Above the entablature the 4 main rivers of the Lombardo-Veneto are depicted.
A rich plastic decoration takes place on the fronts and sides with ornaments and bas-reliefs: the Austrians in Milan, the fall of Dresden, the entrance to Vienna and Paris, the occupation of Lyon, the congress of Vienna, the foundation of the Lombard- Venetian kingdom and 2 side bas-reliefs with the battle of the Aube and Leipzig.
With the return to the Habsburgs, the commemorative purpose of the monumental complex changed: from Arco della Vittoria, in memory of the battle won by the French in 1806, to Arco della Pace.
Minerva’s chariot was rotated 180 ° by the Austrians to taunt the French for the horses’ backs to look at France. Today on the two fronts of the attic there are the inscriptions of the entry of Napoleon III and Vittorio Emanuele II of 1859.
Entering Milan you read:
“Entering with glorious arms / Napoleon III and Vittorio Emanuele II liberators / exultant Milan erased from these marbles / the servile footprints / and wrote the independence of Italy / MDCCCLIX”. Leaving Milan we find instead written: “To the hopes of the Italian Kingdom / Napoleon I auspice / the Milanese dedicated the year MDCCCVII / and francati da servitù / happily returned / MDCCCLIX”
With the aim of returning to the city a work of extraordinary symbolic, architectural and cultural value, the Pessina Costruzioni S.p.A. has promoted and completed in the last few years a conservative intervention on the two former toll booths – in concession for 30 years to the Group – based on a project by the Lombardini 22 studio.
The project, divided into two phases, initially involved the load-bearing structures, and then intervened on the redevelopment of the interior spaces. Currently, the Ponente toll booth (790 square meters) dedicated to hosting events for cultural enhancement has been returned to the city,
art and food and wine of the area. The works on the Levante tollbooth (743 square meters) for the organization of cultural events are also expected to be completed shortly.
The new concept
A meeting place, two souls who live day and night, halfway between free time and professional activity. From its rooms you can admire the life that characterizes Piazza del Sempione.
An event space, with mixology bar and gourmet cuisine, dedicated to good food and good drinking. Signature cocktails of a great metropolis, flavors that look to the territory, but open to internationality.
At Dazi all palates can be tempted by the chef’s proposals while sipping a fine wine or a “Cagnola”, the original creation of our bartender. One goal: to give back to the Milanese a space that represents the city; make it become the meeting place of the Milan that “runs”, the right space for representation, a correct, comfortable and accessible setting, in short a real place to live and to let live.