In eighteenth-century theatres, La Scala included, each box belonged to one of the noble and bourgeois families. They were allowed to decorate and furnish their boxes according to the own personal tastes; they could also rent them out, sell them or bequeath them.
The seats in the stalls were moveable and theatregoers had to hire them if they wanted to sit down. The reason for this was that the Teatro alla Scala was often used for balls, masques and even horse tournaments. It is difficult for a modern spectator to imagine the atmosphere of the time, with the smell of food and smoke, the confusion and the lights.
In the hallways of La Scala, it was common practice to gamble. One illustrious guest at the roulette tables was Alessandro Manzoni. According to contemporary accounts, it was the poet, Vincenzo Monti, who “rescued” Manzoni from the bad habit he was acquiring by exclaiming: “We want to write beautiful verses, yet you continue to act in this way!”.