Milan is a city that is constantly reinventing itself.
Although some of its less-known neighborhoods were once considered unsafe and unappealing, their reputations have been restored to such a degree that they are now trendy and hip. This is because the eclectic nature of these areas reflects the overall personality or character that makes up Milan itself: an incredibly diverse city with a wide variety of personalities.
These are the best areas to stay in Milan if you’re looking for something a more laid back, authentic and cosmopolitan setting.
Read here about the Top 3 Most Lively Districts
Isola And Porta Nuova
The districts of Isola and Porta Nuova have quite distinct personalities but are yet tightly interwoven. They stand for the contemporary, environmentally friendly modernization Milan has undergone over the past 10 years and is still currently experiencing.
Because of its proximity to the railway and large factories, Isola used to be predominantly a working-class residential community until recent times. Today it’s one of Milan’s most peculiar neighborhoods. It owes its name to its relative seclusion from the rest of the city (Isola means “island” in Italian). But that’s what has allowed it to forge a strong sense of identity. Isola has grown to be one of the city’s trendiest and liveliest areas, becoming one of the best areas to stay in Milan for its artisan manufacturing shops, ethnic restaurants from around the world, live music venues, jazz concerts, and many other cultural activities.
The Porta Nuova district, located south of Isola, displays Milan’s futuristic side. The Gae Aulenti square, the focal point of the area, is indeed the best representation of Milan of tomorrow, surrounded by glass-walled skyscrapers, including the Unicredit tower, one of Italy’s tallest structures. This area is also home to the iconic Bosco Verticale, a set of two residential towers that was recognized as the most beautiful and innovative skyscraper worldwide. The neighboring parks are always swarming with people due to their proximity to several offices, the railway, the popularity of Bosco Verticale which constantly attracts visitors, and their lush landscapes.
NoLo is a “newborn” neighborhood in Milan, having only recently been founded (in its new shape and under its new name). Indeed, it recently experienced a renovation effort, making it an appealing destination for those who enjoy street art, hipster settings, and close-knit communities. NoLo gets its name from the fact that it is located north of Piazzale Loreto, one of Milan’s most famous squares.
Due to its proximity to the areas surrounding Via Padova and Viale Monza, inhabited by people belonging to more than fifty different nationalities and ethnicities, NoLo is one of the most diverse and multicultural neighborhoods in Milan. Once a sad backdrop for crime news headlines, today it’s a trendy area that welcomes everyone, which has made its adaptability a strength and a lure for many investors.
The priority placed by its residents on being a member of a cohesive group is the defining feature of this active and diverse neighborhood. The “nolers”, as they are nicknamed, are Milan’s most active community, with its own radio station and social network.
Martesana and Gorla
One of the key highlights of Milan is its artificial canal system, known as the Navigli. The largest of these, the “Naviglio Pavese” aka “Naviglio Grande”, flows through the neighborhood that takes their name, while another one, the “Naviglio della Martesana,” is less well-known but no less fascinating. Gorla used to be a little village, founded on the riverside of the Naviglio, and became known as “Little Paris” for its enchanting beauty. For a long time, Milanesi have made the lovely village a Sunday getaway destination.
Today, it is still one of the city’s districts with the largest density of green space, and it retains its small-town charm. Anyone looking for a sense of what old Milan was like should make a stop to this neighborhood.
Gorla and the surroundings of the Martesana canal are shifting, in part as a result of the initiative and tenacity of its residents and, in part, as a result of the support given by the Milan municipality, which has funded start-up ideas for the redevelopment of peripheral neighborhoods. This has led for the rise of attractive gathering spots like Eastriver.
Eastriver is the first green space with a direct view of the water. A public garden with a bicycle workshop, botanical and educational greenhouse, shared gardens, sports equipment, and a bar and café, designed and built to benefit the community and where you can unwind in a peaceful environment, catch up with friends, or make some new ones.
A similar project, the Cascina Martesana, has transformed this area into a meeting and social gathering spot for residents of Milan’s northeast.