Isola Milano and Garibaldi itinerary

Time needed: 1 afternoon

Isola Milano and the new Garibaldi neighbourhood (born after the creation of Piazza Gae Aulenti complex) are a must-see if you want to understand how the town changed in the last 10 years and where the town is heading.

Garibaldi Milano

Unicredit Building, the heart of the new Garibaldi neighbourhood

Corso Garibaldi is the street that links Duomo district to the station called Porta Garibaldi. It has a mix of old and new buildings that hosts shops and cafes. This street leads you to interesting areas such as Brera and Moscova.

Moscova is particularly lively at night when lots of people come here to relax after a day at work. From here you can see in the background the Unicredit building and you will know which direction to go to reach Piazza Gae Aulenti and the fancy Corso Como.

In Corso Como, stop by Corso Como 10, enter the cute little courtyard and visit the art gallery on the second floor and its bookshop. This gallery was at the core of the renaissance of this street in the 80s: the fancy shops only sprouted like mushrooms after this street became a contemporary art hotspot thanks to Galleria Sozzani. In fact, this area used to be pretty sketchy before that. When you are done, check if the stair to the terrace is open and go upstairs: from here you will have a unique view of the skyline of Milano!

The Unicredit Tower (the highest in Italy) is located at the end of Corso Como. Under the huge skyscrapers complex there is Piazza Gae Aulenti, a surprising success for the urban planners that managed to create a meeting point for locals under such an imposing building, a new and contemporary square that deserves the name of piazza. Behind it, you can find Porta Garibaldi Station, Boeri’s Bosco Verticale (=Vertical Forest), the Libreria degli Alberi (= Tree’s library) park, the new Porta Nuova district, Palazzo Lombardia and the Diamante (=diamond) building.

Well, the cool part about it is that all of the buildings, parks and districts that I just mentioned, were not there just 6 years ago! Those who lived in Milan for the past 10 years had the opportunity to see the town changing for the better, becoming more and more cosmopolite after Expo 2015.

Isola Milano

You will be surprised to know that just behind the station there is one of the most authentic and lively neighbourhoods of Milano: Isola District.

La chiesa di Santa Maria alla Fontana in zona Isola
Santa Maria alla Fontana church, Isola. Art historians say that Leonardo da Vinci might have worked on the project of this church

The area around the Station of Porta Garibaldi used to be pretty sketchy until 15 years ago and Isola is located just behind the railways. It used to be a working-class district and it still keeps that kind of vibe thanks to a community that is really proud to be part of the rise of that district among the most creative in town. It all started because the prices here were low, so creatives and artists could buy houses and they started to open all kind of activities.

At the same time, they integrated very well with the previous inhabitants of the area. This is the reason why in Isola you can see, side by side: independent bookstores, traditional restaurants, natural wine shops, ramen restaurants, jazz clubs, hipster cafes and shops that have been there for 50 years and cutting edge cocktail bar. The perfect mix of the present, the past and the future for and by the hipster community of Isola.

When you are in Isola district don’t forget to visit Santa Maria della Fontana church: art historians found out that the back of the church and the (once) fountain that you can see from the small park, might have been conceived by Leonardo da Vinci. Another amazing building is Fonderia Napoleonica Eugenia: the statue of Vittorio Emanuele that you can see in Piazza del Duomo was created from scratch in this charming building. Unfortunately, Fonderia Napoleonica is not always open to the public but you can check out on their facebook page if they are planning any special event or opening.

Eat and drink

Last but not least… let’s talk about food. These areas have a surprisingly rich offer!

Casa Ramen, Isola Milano

Garibaldi hosts one of the best authentic Japanese restaurants of Milano called Osaka; come here for the lunch set. On the other side, Isola strikes back with the amazing Casa Ramen which serves the best Ramen in town. A third one is located not far from the Diamante building and it is called Tomoyoshi Endo: it offers an intriguing lunch set but it is worth the price also for a dinner that will transport you in Japan for a couple of hours.

Do you want something “more Italian”? Go to Alla Fontana (in Isola) on a winter Sunday and you might be able to try the most typical Lombard dish: Cassoeula. If you prefer to have a very good pizza our suggestion is to go to Berberè.

Do you feel like having fish? Try Pescaria: their hit are some amazing sandwiches with the freshest fish you ever tried, but they offer much more. If you are looking for something more traditional we can suggest you Il Marinaio: it is an Apulian fish restaurant located in Isola that has a very good price-quality ratio. We promise you won’t be hungry anymore afterwards!

In general, Isola is a good place to eat and drink. The food streets of the district are two: via Porro Lambertenghi and via Thaon de Revel.

In the map at the beginning of the post we pinpointed some more interesting places where you can eat.

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How to get here

To go to Corso Garibaldi you can get off at the stops Moscova or Garibaldi FS of the green line.

If you are going to Isola you can use the brand new Liliac line and get off at the stop Isola.

Come here if…

… you love vintage, contemporary architecture, technology and youth culture.

To explore the other neighborhoods of Milan, click here.