Finding uncomfortable, lower-class neighbourhoods in Milan is a struggle, since it is one of the richest cities in Italy. For Italian standards, everything works well: the city is clean and it offers high-quality public services. Former working-class districts such as Moscova, Isola and the area around the Navigli have become fashionable. The few districts that should preferably be avoided are now confined to the city’s suburbs. As you would expect in a large modern city, every neighbourhood has supermarkets, bars, gyms and schools.
As the saying goes, you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. This certainly applies to Milan, where many buildings were bombed during WWII and were quickly rebuilt by architects who paid little attention to aesthetics. However, the interiors are usually renovated and have the modern touch and efficiency that is often lacking in other Italian cities.
WAGNER BUONARROTI – For peace and quiet
This bourgeois neighbourhood, located in the west of Milan, is often chosen by families seeking quiet and comfort. Thanks to the large amount of small parks, such as Parco Pallavicino, Parco CityLife and Parco Vergani, it is considered one of the greenest areas in Milan.
Piazza Wagner and its surroundings have many supermarkets, clothing and book shops, while via Sanzio and via Ravizza are famous for their nightlife: there are many Japanese, Chinese and Italian restaurants here, as well as many bars where you can get an aperitivo. Sporting facilities such as gyms, tennis and golf courts add to the comfort of living in this neighbourhood. The area is well connected, thanks to the M1 underground line, which connects the Wagner, Pagano, Buonarroti and Amendola stops to the Duomo and the city centre.
PROS: Definitely green; affordable rental rates, compared to the historical centre.
CONS: Not many students around.
MOSCOVA/CORSO COMO – For those who want to feel like a VIP
Located between Garibaldi station and Lanza underground station, this area is fashionable and exclusive, and is becoming popular with many Italian VIPs and famous boutiques. The neighbourhood is lively and is becoming the preferred location for people to hang out and drink aperitivos after a long day in the office. Modern skyscrapers, fancy supermarkets, and a green touch thanks to Parco Sempione make this area one of the most dynamic and attractive in Milan. Just make sure money is not a factor in choosing the neighbourhood: 2-bedroom flats cost up to €1200 per month! It’s high quality, but also at a high price.
The neighbourhood is lively and, at night, hundreds of people hang out here to drink aperitivo or have a late night drink after a long day at the office. It is also very green because of the fact that it is very near the Sempione park, the lungs of Milan. Every year, the district hosts a design exposition called Salone del Mobile, which attracts many visitors from all over the world.
PORTA VENEZIA – For students
Porta Venezia was one of the historical gates of the city back in the 19th century, when it marked the boundary of the city. Today, the Porta Venezia area is vibrant and elegant, with many beautiful 19th century buildings. It hosts two of the most important museums in Milan: the Natural History Museum and the Modern Art Gallery. This green area, full of shopping opportunities and very popular among students and young workers, as well as a thriving LGBTQ community, might be the right place for student accommodation.
PROS: Green and lively
NAVIGLI AREA – For the party lovers
The Navigli area is in the south of Milan and is a lively neighbourhood whose residents are mainly students and young workers. In fact, this district hosts three big universities: IULM, Bocconi and Naba, thus follows the typical rhythms of student life: quiet during the day, and brimming after 6pm. The main nightlife hubs in this area are the two banks of the Navigli canal, where thousands of students meet every night. For some relaxed shopping after a late night on Saturday, the Sunday market offers vintage stalls, antiques dealers and artists showing their work. For the typical student nightlife experience, this is the place to go, but be aware that flats tend to be very small here.
PROS: The nightlife and the bohemian atmosphere.
CONS: Make sure you have soundproof walls – it’s noisy here!
HISTORICAL CENTRE – For the lazy ones
The historical centre of Milan hosts all the main touristic attractions like the Duomo, which lies at the geographical heart of the city; the Palazzo Reale, with its important art exhibitions; the Sant’Ambrogio church and the Catholic University; the ancient Spanish walls; Santa Maria delle Grazie church, where Leonardo Da Vinci’s famous Last Supper; and ultimately, Teatro alla Scala, whose orchestra is world-famous. Located exactly at the centre of the whole city, this area is very well connected to the other districts through many metro lines (M1,M2 and M3) and trams. It is also the main fashion district where all of the most famous retail chains and, above all, where you’ll find the Vittorio Emanuele Gallery – one of the most elegant and ancient shopping malls in the world. Visitors come to spin their heels on a bull-floor mosaic, because it is said to bring good luck. Be aware that all of the glamour does not come cheap, and flats are usually unaffordable for students here.
PROS: Perfectly connected, packed with shops and beautiful buildings.
CONS: Nightlife isn’t that exciting: there aren’t many restaurant and bars around, it is more of a daytime place.
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