Milan, The Five Days AD 1848

The Five Days of Milan, March 18-22, 1848 AD
Le cinque giornate di Milano, 18-22 Marzo 1848
Next edition to be announced (the event was last held in 2016)
Milano (Lombardy region)

relive one of the most epic episodes of the Italian Risorgimento, when the heroic Milanese people made history taking the streets and fighting to free their city from the Austrian occupation. A chance to discover also the surprising and dynamic Milan city with all its heritage and history...

Geographical, cultural and historical context

Milan, located in the north-western Italy, between the river Po Valley and the first reliefs of the Alps, is the capital of Lombardy region, the second-largest city and the main industrial, commercial and financial centre of Italy, as well as a major world fashion and design capital. Milan hosts several cultural institutions and universities, the headquarters of many banks and companies, and many international events and fairs. The city is also well-known for its remarkable museums, theatres and landmarks (including the Duomo, the Castello Sforzesco and Santa Maria delle Grazie decorated with Leonardo da Vinci’s paintings and listed by UNESCO).

Milan was founded by the Celtic tribe of the Insubres, and then conquered by the Romans in 222 BC. From 286 until 402 AD it became the capital of the Western Roman Empire, and during the High Middle Ages was one of the wealthiest Italian cities. Later the Duchy of Milan was ruled by Visconti and Sforza Signorie, and the Spanish Kingdom before being occupied by the Austrian Empire until 1796, when it was freed by Napoleon, and then again from 1815 to 1859, when the city finally was annexed to the Kingdom of Sardinia.

Milan played a key role during the Risorgimento (the 19th century Italian unification movement) and led the industrial development of the new born Kingdom of Italy. The city was at that time the capital of the Kingdom of Lombardy-Venetia, part of the Habsburg Empire, and occupied by a well-organized Austrian garrison of about 15.000 men-at-arms led by Marshal Josef Radetzky (1766-1858, a Czech nobleman, and famous general).
One of the most glorious episodes of its rich history as well as of the whole Italian Risorgimento are the “Five Days of Milan”, the rebellion of the Milanese citizens against the Austrian rule from the 18th to 22nd March 1848, the year of the liberal revolutions throughout Europe.

Event description and programme

Every year Milan commemorates the events leading to its most glorious rebellion, the “Five Days of Milan”, when the Milanese people made history. Following a new tax on tobacco e cigars a “tobacco strike“ began: the Milanese people, willing to harm the Austro-Hungarian finances, stopped smoking, depriving the treasury of the high revenue related to heavy taxes over tobacco. Soldiers were sent by Radetzky on the streets to smoke and blow smoke provocatively in face of citizens. Clashes erupted soon resulting in violent riots with deaths and injuries among civilians. The widespread anger against the Austrian domination turned into an open revolt with men and women from all walks of life and backgrounds, uprising, fighting in the streets, raising barricades, shooting and throwing all kind of objects and projectiles from roofs and windows, and sending balloons to the countryside to encourage the villagers to join the revolt. And thanks to the will, patriotism and heroism of the Milanese citizens the Austrians were first forced to retreat in the Castello Sforzesco, and then finally to leave the city, being defeated by unprofessional and badly armed "troops" but united by the dream of freedom.

The rich programme of events includes conferences and lectures, exhibitions, music and theatre shows, displays of the civil and military daily life of the period thanks to the many reenactors in the historical camps, while the old town, from the Castello Sforzesco to the Duomo square and the picturesque Brera artists’ neighbourhood become the set of several tableaux vivants which spectacularly portray that glorious uprising.

Please contact the Organizers for confirmation and further details.

Info & Contact

Milan City Council
Tel.: +39 02 795892
E-mail: online form

Tourism Office Milano

Province of Milan / Provincia Milano

Image: Milan City Council
Text source: Wikipedia, Milan City Council, Milan Tourism Office, Liceo Berchet Milan, Napoli History,

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