Milan Neighborhood Guide
Capital of fashion and design, Milan is a sprawling modern metropolis with an industrious atmosphere and no-nonsense character. Though it is one of the few cities in Italy where you can find modern skyscrapers, Milan has Roman roots and plenty of historic neighborhoods with an old-world feel. Here are the most interesting to explore.
Most visitors to Milan begin their explorations in Cathedral Square (Piazza del Duomo), the heart of Milan’s historic center. Some of the city’s most important sights are clustered here, including the soaring Gothic cathedral, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, La Scala opera house, and the Royal Palace. This neighborhood sits at the center of the city, and from here you can strike out farther north to the tony areas of Brera and the Quadrilatero della Moda or south to the more trendy Navigli and Ticinese districts.
One of the most fashionable neighborhoods in Milan, Brera is a picturesque maze of cobblestoned streets lined with chic boutiques, upscale homes, and gourmet restaurants. In addition to its shopping and food scene, this area is known for its excellent Brera Art Gallery (Pinacoteca di Brera), one of the most important museums in Italy. Stop in to admire the collection of works by Botticelli, Caravaggio, Raphael, Titian, Rembrandt, and others.
Quadrilatero della Moda (or Quadrilatero d’Oro)
Whether it’s called the Fashion Quarter or the Golden Quarter, this swank area adjacent to Brera wears its luxury heart on its sleeve. Fashion-forward shoppers browse the many designer boutiques and high-end stores sitting shoulder to shoulder in what many consider to be the most important fashion district in the world.
Architecture enthusiasts will enjoy exploring the Porta Nuova neighborhood, just beyond Brera and the Quadrilatero della Moda. This business district is named after a 19th-century city gate but is home to Milan’s most important modern commercial and residential towers, including the Unicredit Tower, Palazzo Lombardia, Pirelli Tower, and the Bosco Verticale.
Milan’s city center was once crisscrossed with a network of canals, or navigli, used to transport goods and people. Only two still exist in the trendy Navigli district just south of the city center, now lined with posh galleries and teeming restaurants and clubs. Head here to experience the city’s thriving food scene and vibrant nightlife.
Among the oldest neighborhoods in Milan, this former working-class enclave is one of the city’s up-and-coming districts, crowded with bohemian cafés, cutting-edge restaurants, and hip boutiques. By day, shoppers flood this urban hot spot to browse the stores on Corso di Porta Ticinese and Via Torino. By night, the local party set gathers here to see and be seen at some of the city’s hottest clubs.