Posted by Fulvio . . . Translation and intro by Larry Ray July 6, 2011
Our respected friend, speleologist, scholar, environmentalist and historian, Gianluca Padovan, has done a re-cap on a series of articles on the legacy of WWII beneath the city of Milan . . . the bomb shelters into which thousands fled the allied bombing of WWII.
These bomb shelters, sealed off and hidden for more than half a century are being rediscovered by Gianluca Padovan and his fellow explores who are dedicated to making these forgotten places of refuge part of the education of young Italians. And in many schools a field trip is now simply a matter of entering long forgotten forgotten entrances to chambers beneath their very schools!
Below is Gianluca's latest article which may serve as a template for what you may see in the links, below, to magnificent photo galleries that show the rediscovered and reopened shelters. While Americans had emergency shelters during the cold war years after WWII, in the form of "fallout shelters," there was never any fallout, nor attack upon the USA itself and the shelters, thankfully, were never actually used. In Italy, however, particularly Naples, the "ricoveri" or bomb shelters are still parts of childhood memories for hundreds of thousands of Italians still living today.
Gianluca's "Milan Zone 9 Underground!" is part of an effort to keep this part of Italy's recent history part of school curriculums, and key alive with wide access to these underground shelters, which retain much of the feel and ambiance from half a century ago. Old directional signs to entrances, exits, and toliets, as well as cobweb-covered electrical wiring, showers, toilets, benches and more tell a strong story. Gianluca Padovan's latest article is below followed links to fascinating photos of restorations and recent discoveries.
Larry Ray, NUg translator
Milan: Zone 9 Underground! by Gianluca Padovan
After several years of ongoing study and research of air-raid shelters beneath the city of Milan we have begun to extract and compile some important data.
Many today may question the value of preserving our WWII heritage with some even believing such study and efforts are irrelevant. Actually such work is very much in tune with progressive goals and efforts being championed today.
A good example is in Zone 9, beneath a public school on Viale Bodio, where two large underground rooms of what was Milan's city air raid shelter No. 87 have been reopened and restored with support buttressing using logs and support timbers.
This architectural work makes it possible to safely see how the shelters once looked.
In addition to this refuge, which has been discussed extensively in recent forums on Napoliunderground, volunteers. young and old have become involved in the cleaning and restoration of the discovered shelters as part of the nationwide "Legaambiente" a popular 'green' environmental movement.
Milan's former Zone 9 still awaits discovery of many more of these sealed time capsules beneath today's bustling city.
A good example has been found in the basement of another school on Via Passerini 8. This area was clearly used as a shelter with numerous entrance and directional signs still affixed to the walls. Another example has been found beneath the Caracciolo School, on via Iseo #7.
Another amazing discovery was found beneath the open area of Milan's North Park. An unusual air raid shelter was located which is a 300 foot long long horizontal chamber with poured reinforced concrete arched overhead which has four separate entrances.
North Park is a former industrial area where other shelters are waiting to be discovered but their entryways have been covered over. So how do you fine these long buried entrances? Well, we call upon the established methods used by archaeologists which, includes being able to discover subtle changes in the color of the soil generally with photo interpretation!
We feel that ongoing discoveries of underground structures is very important. And equally important is their protection and their return to the public as a living piece of our history, a part of our past that unfortunately today is generally not taught to our children.
Good luck in future discoveries and above all, my sincere thanks to everyone for your enthusiasm and spirit of collaboration, as we continue to discover and document Milan's hidden air-raid shelters awaiting discovery.
Thank you all!
Gianluca Padovan Association (SCAM - FNCA)
Air raid shelter No. 87
Milan Zone 9 Gallery