Civico Polo Scolastico Alessandro Manzoni

Civico Polo Scolastico Alessandro Manzoni—“la Manzoni” for friends—is a 150-year-old (and counting) secondary school in Milan and a gem in the city’s cultural landscape.

Born as an all-female institution, la Manzoni was founded just weeks after Italy’s unification at the initiative of city councillor and national politician Carlo Tenca, with a clear view to creating a modern, forward-looking learning centre for Milanese young women to fully express their potential and eventually gain a long-due recognition of their contribution to society. It remains, to date, one of a handful of schools in Italy to be entirely owned and operated by a local authority, the Comune di Milano, reaffirming the city council’s commitment to accessible, high-quality education.

By 1978, in the midst of seismic cultural and societal changes in Italy, the school had opened its doors to male students, adding to an ever-increasing user base which compelled its administration to envisage a move from its historic venue, Palazzo Dugnani, to a new compound in the expanding Rubattino area. La Manzoni easily grew to be the largest of just five secondary establishments in Italy to focus on foreign languages at the time, and served as a blueprint for the expansion of its curriculum to state schools, contributing to the birth of liceo linguistico nationwide.

In 2011 came the occasion to reunite both its technical and academic-oriented courses in a single building, the Polo Deledda, a renewed and refitted, easily accessible location to the southern edge of the dynamic NoLo district. By then, true to its long-standing trailblazing tradition, it had integrated Chinese in its instruction (2008). It is currently in the process of phasing in Russian (2020) and Arabic (2023).

La Manzoni’s debating society is more than a quarter of a century old and, ever since 2003, thanks to the vigorous initiative and resourcefulness of a small group of dedicated and experienced teachers, the school has been hosting Milan’s first Model United Nations conference: MilanMUN. Today, new teachers have picked up their baton, renewing a commitment to the principles that inspired its birth: to complement the school’s mission by providing students with a clear international outlook, strong critical-thinking skills, and a refined, humane understanding of world issues in order to foster the global citizens of tomorrow.