Ancestry UK

Martinitt, Milan, Lombardy, Italy

The Martinitt orphanage for Roman Catholic boys was founded in 1528 by Gerolamo Emiliani, who had previously opened an orphanage for poor children in Venice. To house the orphanage, Duke Francesco II Sforza of Milan gave Emiliani the oratory of Saint Martin on what is now the Via Manzoni. The orphan inmates were known as Martinitt.

The orphanage relocated several times. In 1776, Empress Maria Theresa moved it to Gessate, east of Milan. Thereafter, the boys were required to remain in the institution until the age of 18, and that they would be trained for employment.

Following Napoleon Bonaparte's conquest of Milan in 1796, he converted the orphanage into a military hospital. The Martinitt then moved into some buildings in Brera, then into an abandoned convent, and finally in 1803 back to the original premises in Via Manzoni.

In 1932, a new home for the Martinitt was established by Benito Mussolini in Via Pitteri, near Lambrate.

Martinitt, Via Pitteri, Milan, c.1960.

An orphanage for girls, known as the Stelline, was established in Milan in the second half of the sixteeth century. The Martinitt and the Stelline orphanages closed in 1971, with their role being absorbed into a wider social care institution called Pio Albergo Trivulzio.

A museum dedicated to the history of the Martinitt and the Stelline was established in 2009 at 57 Corso Magenta, in part of the former Stelline orphanage building.


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  • None identfied at present — any information welcome.