Discovering Porta Nuova: Milan’s new urban frontier

From the Roman Empire to skyscrapers, this neighbourhood has always been of great interest for the city of Milan, even though the latest and most important renovation is what turned it into one of the most visited districts. Piazza Gae Aulenti, the Biblioteca degli Alberi and the surrounding areas, with a balanced combination of green areas and sustainable urbanization, is the final touch of a renovation project that took years to finish. Let us walk you through the history of Porta Nuova and find out about Milan’s transition into a contemporary European metropolis.

The history of innovation

The Porta Nuova, which gives its name to the entire area, is actually a Spanish arched gate built in the XVI century, located in between two canals called Seveso and Martesana. A few different gates were originally constructed by the Romans around the same perimeter, though this later one was erected a little to the West compared to where the Roman walls stood. Its military purpose of preventing foreigners from freely entering the city lost its meaning as early as in the 1800s, when the gate  became a symbol of development and commerce, especially since it linked Milan with Brianza, the surrounding region. The architects sought a further development to the West, which unfortunately never happened.

 As a matter of fact, right next to the arch, Milan’s first railway station, the Porta Nuova Station, was inaugurated in 1840, preventing the city from expanding. Since then, the neighbourhood has remained an important transportation hub for locals and workers from other regions, with Stazione Centrale e Stazione Porta Garibaldi as main players; nevertheless the area has been forgotten and neglected for more than a century, until the renovation project was kicked to a start in the early 2000s.The core of this new urban development is Piazza Gae Aulenti, which counts some of the tallest buildings in Italy and now represents one of the most visited landmarks in Milan together with the Duomo and Leonardo’s “Cenacolo”.

Must sees in the area

Great ideas and innovation turned what once was an aesthetically plain-looking district into a tourist attraction in the open. Whether you’d rather enjoy some fresh air or shop for expensive clothes, here you’ll always find something to do. Though if you’re visiting for the first time, here’s what you can’t miss

  • Let’s start with the iconic Piazza Gae Aulenti: technically located in the Isola neighbourhood, this circle-shaped square was opened in 2012 and has gradually become one of the symbols of contemporary Milan. With a fountain in the middle, the square is surrounded by skyscrapers, among which the UniCredit tower has the title of Italy’s tallest building. 
  • Next to the Piazza, you can easily access the Biblioteca degli Alberi, a modern botanical garden with an intricate and curious design, which sometimes hosts great cultural events and music festivals. Keep up with the different initiatives at this link here:
  • On the North-Western side of the park, you’ll see two of the most famous buildings in the world: the Bosco Verticale. With more than two thousands species of plants and trees, these two residential towers were nominated “best skyscrapers of the world” by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat in 2015. The botanical diversity brought by this project has been declared beneficial to the air quality of the city as well as a contributor to the reduction of acoustic pollution. 
  • Time for some shopping: you’re still in the fashion capital after all! Right on the Southern exit to Piazza Gae Aulenti, you’ll find yourself on the famous Corso Como, one of Milan’s most luxurious streets. Walk around, stop to look at the exclusive stores or sip a cocktail, this pedestrian zone is for you to discover!
  • Take a detour to Brera: looking for museums and some picturesque views? Check out the dedicated post on our blog and find out more about Milan’s fine arts neighbourhood! 

Time to rest… and grab a snack! 

Porta Nuova and Brera have their differences, though food is what brings them together. Due to their proximity, a few of our culinary suggestions might also appear in our Brera post. One more reason to check both out! 

  • Let’s start the day with some breakfast! Pattini and Princi, which we already suggested in our Brera post, represent the perfect Italian “cappuccino and pastries” places, but there you can also get a quick lunch or an afternoon drink. If you love books, we totally recommend checking out Feltrinelli Libreria, a bookstore where you can sip your coffee while reading your favorite novel. 
  • You’ve probably been to Eataly before, in one of their locations spattered across the globe, though nothing competes with tasting true Italian flavors while in Italy. Try out our traditional Mulino Bianco’s cookies, drink a glass of wine, from Chianti to Valpolicella, or grab a bite of Parmigiano. You’ll have our country’s fine food all in one place, where lunch and dinner can be bought or served throughout the day.
  • Looking for a quick bite while walking around the neighbourhood? Grab a fish -based sandwich at Pescaria, where fast food meets seafood! Though we know that fish is not for everybody: well, you can’t go wrong with some Italian pizza!  Pizzeria di Porta Garibaldi has been serving its pizza al taglio, or pizza slices, since 1950 and it’s right next to Porta Garibaldi station.  
  • For dinner, you can opt for Osteria Brunello, which is “always open to serve great food”, as they state in their official website; in fact, we believe that this osteria perfectly managed to get modernity and tradition blended together in order to balance the perfect flavors. Another similar place you most definitely don’t want to miss is the historical restaurant Il Solferino, which was founded more than a hundred years ago and still today continues to serve great Milanese traditional food. Finally, you can have a taste of Rome at Volemose Bene, one of Milan’s best Roman osterie. From pasta to side dishes, this place will transport you to the Capital! 
  • Porta Nuova and Brera are linked by a third vibrant and young neighbourhood and that is exactly where you need to go if you’re looking for a fun night out: we’re talking about the Moscova district, where locals usually hang out and drink with friends. Come and sip a cocktail at Dry Milano on Via Solferino, you won’t regret it!


Where to sleep? With us of course! 

With RELSTAY, you can sleep right next to the famous Piazza Gae Aulenti, in our conveniently located accommodation. Located on Via Melchiorre Gioia, only a few steps from the M2 green line metro station, we offer a cozy one bedroom apartment with fast and unlimited free WiFi, a well equipped kitchen and a washing machine, which will give you hotel-like comforts in a home-like environment.

The RELSTAY experience is unique and grants high quality standards and amenities. With contactless digital self check-in and check-out and 24/7 real time assistance, you won’t have to worry about anything. 

What are you waiting for? 

Come and discover this modern district and book a RELSTAY stay!