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Milan is back and doing what it does best: Reinvent itself day after day

by Armando Torno

Someone probably remembers the ”Moplen” brand. The comedian Gino Bramieri used to present it at the Carosello, an Italian TV show made of short sketch comedy films, followed by commercials. Moplen was an innovative plastic material invented by a chemical engineer from Imperia (Liguria) called Giulio Natta who had linked his name to the city of Milan.
He was linked to the Politecnico of Milan and to the Montecatini group (later Montedison). But above all he is one of the protagonists of that economic, social and cultural miracle that became the normality in Milan during the Sixties. In 1963 Natta received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry. They used to say that Natta was the main representative of the true essence of Milan, that indefinable mix of spirit and practicality that constitutes the basis of Italy's economic capital.

Today, sixty years later, Milan is going through a phase that someway resembles the Sixties. Milan Furniture Fair which ended a few days ago has showed a lively city, properly equipped to face the third millennium.

Milan dialogues. It is the capital of fashion (and there are young fashion designers like Federico Sangalli who’s experimenting in San Babila bags and clothes that glow in the dark), but in this city the big brands don't forget about the Duomo either: on Thursday, April 19, in the Sala delle Colonne (the Hall of Columns), next to the cathedral, twenty of the most important fashion brands (among which Armani, Gucci, Krizia, Missoni, Prada, Trussardi and Tiffany) have donated clothes and accessories from their collections to be sold at a Christie's auction. The income will be used to restore the immense marble church.

Milan doesn't get tired of making projects. Construction sites have multiplied in the last months, and not only as a result of the campaign for the upcoming election of the new mayor: Expo, the universal exposition which took place last year, seems to keep spreading its energy, even after its natural ending. There is a discussion going on about the setting, some proposals have been presented that would be in contrast with the frenetic life of the city (like the reopening of the Navigli, Milan's historical waterways), but the city never stops moving.

Milan hosts the main publishing companies, it is linked to culture not only thanks to its art collections but also for innovative projects, from the Mudec (the Museum of Cultures) to big book tradeshows (the main ones could become five by the end of the year), from Brecht's comeback at the Piccolo Teatro to a ”Fanciulla del West” by Puccini presented at the Teatro alla Scala in May becoming almost a worldwide preview.

The conductor Riccardo Chailly has carefully reviewed the score of the opera eliminating some of the capriccios generated by Caruso, and some corrections and adjustment that Toscanini was basically forced to do for the Metropolitan of New York.

The city of Milan is every and each of these aspects. And it leaves its mark, like the Ansaldo's workshops contribute to the success of the shows at the Teatro alla Scala with their artisanal details. The Teatro alla Scala's superintendent Alexander Pereira also pointed out that these spaces have become the hotbed of the Scala-related culture: a historical patrimony that is constantly invested, used, lived. Is also through them that Milan's essence reinvents itself day after day.