The name “Milan”
For much of its history, Milan was known as Mediolanum
The name comes from one of the following sources – or a combination of them – in a mix of reality and legend:
A derivation from Mediolanum, the Latin name of the Roman city, in the sense of the “Mid-Land” (reflecting the geo-po- litical position that the city has always had and as it was considered for centuries; as Charles V said about Milan: “Mid-land, apple of my eye”); Mediolanum was the name of the city in Roman times. The etymological meaning would appear to be the land in the middle of the plain or the place between waterways (“The Insubres had Mediolanum as their city. In ancient times it was a village […], but now it is an important city beyond the Po, almost at the foot of the Alps” – Strabo, Geograph- ica V, 1.6.).
A strong tradition also derives the name of the city from the half-woolly sow, or “scrofa semilanuta” and thus medi- um-lanae, an extremely ancient symbol in the city’s heraldry, which ended up under the figure of St Ambrose in its official banner. The animal can be seen in Piazza Mercanti in Milan on a bas-relief on a capital of the Palazzo della Ragione. The same animal also appears on a coat of arms in the inner courtyard of the Palazzo Marino.
Then there is a theory that the name dates back to the occupation of Roman Gaul by the Alemanni, who invaded the city in the month of May (Mai land).