The neighbourhood takes its name from a historic farmstead demolished in 1920, called Cascina Maggiolina, which stood near the Seveso river before this was covered over near today’s via della Maggiolina.
The area, then far from the city centre and situated in open countryside, was the location of several farmsteads, which did not survive Milan’s urban development. One small corner has resisted this process, proudly surprising passers-by with its historic character.
This is the Cascina delle Abbadesse crossroads, universally known as “Cassin Baess” in Milanese dialect. This is the site of the old farmstead and the church of Santi Carlo e Vitale, which remain as a testimony to the rural hub that remained unchanged until the start of the twentieth century.
The first mention of “Cassin Baess” is in a medieval document that reveals its history as being closely tied to that of the adjacent Augustinian convent. The agricultural land surrounding the farmsteads were the property of the convent and referred to as such: “Terre delle Abbadesse”, which is where the name comes from. The area must have been well frequented because a column hosting a cross was erected there, around the time of the counter-reformation, typical where there were lots of visitors for religious celebrations.
In the early eighteenth century, under the patronage of Countess Mariani, a chapel was added at the site of the cross dedicated to saints Vitale and Carlo Borromeo, later completed with the adjacent rectory. Having survived political upheaval and today protected by the cultural-heritage authority, the church still hosts Sunday mass and enchants visitors with its wonderful eighteenth-century frescoes.
Fortunately, the Cascina Abbadesse farmstead has also survived. At the start of the twentieth century it was used residentially, divided into typical Milanese case di ringhiera apartments housing many families together. Today, it is privately owned and primarily used as a b&b.
Here on this historic crossroads, which has seen a thousand stories play out, for a moment it feels like you are far from Milan.