Alessio enjoys traveling and discovering new cultures and food traditions.
Milan, a Two-Sided City
Milan is a popular tourist destination. The city is not only one of the most famous in Italy but is also its main economic center. Most important companies operating in Italy and local branches of multinationals have set their headquarters in Milan, which is also one of the prominent landmarks for fashion, food, drinks, and nightlife.
Since the cathedral, Duomo di Milano is one of the most famous monuments in the world, and the rest of the city center features historical landmarks and monuments, most tourists believe Milan is like an open museum. The fact is that Milan is a two-sided city: when you go far from the cathedral, you discover another reality made of skyscrapers, offices, and business parks.
One of the most entertaining things to do in Milan is to travel between the historic city center and the modern districts to see how the city changes from one subway stop to another.
This article will guide you through discovering the business districts of Milan and the activities you can do there.
Porta Nuova District
Porta Nuova is the most famous Milan business district, and maybe the only one to reach popularity among tourists, due to the presence of two prominent tourist attractions:
- Unicredit Tower: The global headquarters of one of the most famous Italian banks, it is also famous for being the tallest skyscraper in the country.
- Vertical Forest: This is a pair of luxury residential buildings featuring plants on the facades.
Gae Aulenti Square
Gae Aulenti is the main square that surrounds the Unicredit Tower. The main particularity of this area is to be set on two levels. The square is not directly accessible from the ground; instead, you must take the stairs or an elevator. When you arrive, you are in front of the Unicredit Tower, surrounded by stores of every kind and several colored fountains. The square symbolizes one of the wealthiest areas in Italy and maybe in all of Europe.
Porta Nuova Food District
Gae Aulenti Square mostly features shops and colored fountains in the upstairs area. Downstairs, you will find yourself in Porta Nuova Food District, an open dining area with tables at the center and various eateries in a circle.
The idea is to create a convivial environment where groups of people can order food from different places and eat together at the same table; it's similar to what you'd find in some shopping malls. To achieve this communal dining experience, the Porta Nuova Food District mostly features fast food restaurants, with dishes one can easily take away and bring to the shared tables.
Corso Como is a street near the Porta Nuova district; reaching it means just taking another exit from the nearest subway stop, Garibaldi FS.
Even if Corso Como is in a business district, the street is not famous for its offices but instead for its vibrant nightlife. Here you will find famous discos, restaurants, and places for having an Italian aperitivo, a drink with some snacks, or even hot dishes (making the aperitivo into an authentic dinner).
The Chinatown area, around 10 minutes on foot from Porta Nuova District, features both Italian and Chinese shops, making it a perfect example of an ecosystem in which two cultures coexist.
CityLife is one of the newest districts in Milan, and it followed a general urban improvement project that created a large shopping area surrounded by luxury residential buildings and offices. As a business district, it’s relatively small, so the shopping park is the area's main attraction.
Hadid Tower is the local headquarters of Generali Insurance Group in Milan. The name comes from the architect who projected it: Zaha Hadid.
The particularity of the building is in its design: in fact, it tends to twist as it goes up in height. The tower is the most important CityLife business building and one of the modern Milan skyline’s primary symbols. Emporis, a real estate data mining company, mentioned the tower as the second most beautiful building in the world in 2016.
CityLife Shopping District
The shopping district consists of two areas:
- A commercial gallery with shops, restaurants, and a cinema.
- An outdoor park with a supermarket and other shops and restaurants.
Its particularity is to be directly connected with the Tre Torri subway stop: this means that, immediately after going out of the station, you already arrive there. Moreover, with its 32.000 square meters, CityLife Shopping District is Italy's largest urban shopping mall.
Maciachini Business Park
While Porta Nuova is Milan's de facto business center, various small ones are also located in multiple city areas. One of these is Maciachini Business Park, located in a Milan suburb.
The district mostly features ethnic shops and restaurants, and it’s one of the most multiethnic areas of Milan. The business park is located at the end of Carlo Imbonati Street and, despite not being a tourist attraction, it’s a quiet area where you can spend some time and maybe eat and drink something in case your hotel is nearby.
At the center of it, you can find a small but nice green park, offices, a large gym, an all-you-can-eat pizza restaurant, and cozy cafes.
Bicocca District is the home of one of the most important public universities in Milan but also features a small business area, two shopping malls, and an outdoor concert hall.
In the mid-1980s, there was a problem of over-enrollment at the University of Milan. This fact has contributed to creating the second university in the Bicocca area to decongest the other. Today, Bicocca University is, together with the University of Milan, one of the most important in Italy, with a particular focus on scientific subjects.
Located inside an old industrial archaeological park, Carroponte is an outdoor area for concerts and musical events. The place hosted several exhibitions of various famous Italian artists, including Cristina D’Avena. There are no indoor halls, so the area features concerts mostly during summer.
The Bicocca district features two important shopping malls:
- Sarca: This is a big shopping mall featuring clothing shops, a hypermarket, restaurants, and a cinema.
- Bicocca Village: Compared to Sarca, it focuses more on restaurants and fun places, even if it also features a few shops and a supermarket. The main attractions of this mall are a giant cinema and a game room with arcade machines, ping-pong, and pool tables.
Indro Montanelli Square
Indro Montanelli Square is a quiet area featuring offices of various national companies and branches of multinationals. It’s one of the least known business parks, as it’s located at the end of the subway’s red line in Milan’s hinterland.
The difference between Milan’s urban area and the hinterland is slight, as they are so connected that the division is only administrative. Despite this, tourists tend not to reach places far from the city center because there are no attractions to see. Still, there is a four-star hotel in the square, so one could still happen to spend some time there.
I like this business park because it’s quiet and far from the chaos of the city center. In addition to offices and a hotel, the area features the Faculty of Language Mediation and Intercultural Communication of the University of Milan.
Top Places for Eating, Drinking & Relaxing in Milan’s Business Districts
© 2022 Alessio Ganci