Till the end of the XIX century Porta Tosa was the former name of Porta Vittoria, it was one of the 11 city gates in the Spanish walls of Milan. It opened the way towards East.
The only remains of Porta Tosa, now called Porta Vittoria, are the customs in 5 Giornate Square. The name Porta Tosa was given by a 13th century bas-relief posed on the arch of the gate: a woman shaving her pubic hair. It was a punishment for prostitutes and adulteresses.
In order to explain the meaning of the bas-relief one legend says that in 1162, during one of Frederick Barbarossa’s many sieges of the city, a young Milanese woman climbed to the ramparts of the Porta at dawn, faced Barbarossa’s waking army (camped outside of the city walls), hiked up her skirt for all the troops to see, and began to shave herself.
Another story holds that the Porta got its name after the Milanese delegation to the Eastern Empress in Constantinople Leobissa was refused their requests for financial assistance following Frederick Barbarossa’s sack of Milan in 1162. Out of spite, the Milanese affixed the marble bas-relief to this Easternmost and thus Constantinople-facing porta as an insult to the Eastern Empress Leobissa.
13th century bas-relief with a woman shaving her pubic hair. It was posed on the arch of Porta Tosa.