AC Milan vs Inter history: Why is it called the Derby della Madonnina?

AC Milan and Inter doing battle in the Derby della Madonnina is one of the fixtures that you just can't miss in Serie A. But when did the rivalry begin, and what gave it its name?


While known for being the home of some the biggest names in fashion, the city of Milan also attracts tourists from all over the world through the visual spectacle on display when its two biggest clubs, AC Milan and Inter, come to blows at the striking and historic Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on the west side of the metropolis.

The Serie A giants have faced off in the Derby della Madonnina for more than a century, bringing not just the city to a standstill but the whole of Italy and beyond. With some of the biggest names in world football pulling on the Rossoneri and Nerazzurri jerseys since the first match in January 1909, spectators have been treated for over a century.

Such has been the success of the pair since that initial encounter, in the years that have gone by, the fixture has helped decide the destination of the Scudetto and the Coppa Italia. It has also occasionally ended the Champions League aspirations for one side of the famous Milanese divide.

Why is it called the Derby della Madonnina?

No visit to Milan is complete without at least walking past the Duomo di Milano, which took almost six centuries to construct after the first stone was laid in 1386 and as the largest cathedral on the peninsula, it both dominates the piazza and provides stunning views from its rooftop.

Completed in 1965 and with the rivalry between the two clubs fully embedded within the Italian game and the city, the encounter became known as the Derby della Madonnina (Derby of the Little Madonna) in honour of the small golden statue of the Virgin Mary that rests on top of the Duomo.

The Stadio San Siro / Giuseppe Meazza. (@TorinoFC_1906)

Milan Derby choreographies: A classic of the Curvas

Although greats such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Andrea Pirlo and Ronaldo have graced the illustrious fixture, the spectacle on the terraces of San Siro has become equally as entertaining as the football over the years, with several famous displays by the ultras stealing just as many headlines.

However, with the supporters of both clubs keen to get one over their housemates, they take particular pleasure in providing a show in direct response to their opposition. In October 2018, the Interisti unfurled a huge snake display across the Curva Nord, only for the Milan fans to respond with their presentation of two hands ripping a serpent in half. The Biscione had the last laugh, though, through an injury-time winner from Mauro Icardi.


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