New York celebrates the power and the optimism of Wall Street with a statue of a charging bull in the Financial District of Manhattan. Milan, on the other hand, is a bit more disillusioned about the merits of the financial world.
At the very centre of Piazza Affari, the square in Milan where the Italian stock exchange has its headquarters, is a marble statue depicting a hand with only its middle finger standing up. If you look closely, you’ll see that the other fingers are not flexed, but they look as if they were cut off. The impression is the same nevertheless: an unambiguous “fuck you” to the world of bankers and CEOs.
The statue bears the title of L.O.V.E., which stands for Libertà, Odio, Vendetta, Eternità (Freedom, Hate, Vengeance, Eternity) and was created in 2010 by the Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan, known for his provocative works. The statue was supposed to stay in Piazza Affari for just a couple of weeks, but the city government decided to keep it there indefinitely.
Cattelan never commented on the meaning of the statue, but most people assume it refers to the economic crisis that affected Europe – and Italy in particular – from 2008 onwards. Some people noticed that, if it weren’t for the severed fingers, the statue would show the infamous fascist salutation, and this can be interpreted as a political statement. It also suits the fact that the Italian stock exchange is based in Palazzo Mezzanotte, a fascist-era building.
Piazza Affari is in the business district of Milan, which is definitely not a tourist destination, yet people keep making a detour to see and giggle at the statue. Some of them – even families with children – pose while flipping the bird at the camera, bringing a little bit of edginess to their tour of the city.
Know Before You Go
From Piazza Cordusio, with the Castello Sforzesco behind your back and looking towards the Duomo, take Via Cordusio on your right. Take the second street on your right and you'll end up in Piazza Affari.