AROUND MILAN: discovering piazza Missori
Often overlooked, this area where offices share space with homes and historic businesses hides little gems worth discovering.
Located only a few steps from the Duomo, Piazza Missori is often seen as a mere place to quickly pass through, but in reality it's got more to offer. It’s surrounded by buildings from various eras telling interesting stories about Milan's past that are exploring.
The square is named after Colonel Giuseppe Missori, a republican hero who participated in the Five Days of Milan and saved Garibaldi from a Bourbon attack in Milazzo in 1859. Per commIn 1916, Riccardo Ripamonti erected a statue in the center of the square as a tribute to his exploits. It depicts a proud Missori standing on a horse with an exhausted look for the hardships endured.
History and fun facts
Originally, Piazza Missori was a major residential neighborhood in the ancient Roman city of Mediolanum. Prestigious domus stood here, and it was on the remains of one of these that the church of San Giovanni in Conca was built in the 5th century.
In the crypt of this church, a beautiful polychrome floor mosaic was later found, now preserved at the Civic Archaeological Museum. Also near the church, an important Lombard tombstone was discovered, which represents a rare example of paleo-Christian painting in Milan and is now on display at the Sforzesco Castle.
Fast forward to the 1300s, Piazza Missori was chosen as the residence of the city's lord, Bernabò Visconti, who incorporated the church of San Giovanni in Conca into his palace and turned it into the family chapel. Upon his death, his nephew Gian Galeazzo (who had plotted his death) freed the church from his uncle's fortress and had the parvis built.
With time, the square evolved and changed. After World War II, the church was demolished to accommodate the new Piazza Missori-Via Albricci road axis, and the area underwent significant architectural developments. These included the iconic Velasca Tower, designed by Ernesto Nathan Rogers and considered one of the finest examples of Italian rationalism.
What to see
One of Piazza Missori's most prominent features is the ancient red brick apse of San Giovanni in Conca, which left its religious roots behind to serve as a traffic separator. A sign on the sidewalk displays the former extent of the building.
Down a small staircase, you can still visit the crypt, which holds a thousand-year history. It's a rare Romanesque crypt in Milan, with precious Roman and medieval artifacts inside.
Moving towards the Missori monument, you'll see the only surviving ancient building in the square. It's an imposing 17th-century brick building that used to be a Barnabite convent and was later converted into the Beccaria High School. Now that the school has moved to a new location, the building houses one of the campuses of Milan's State University.
Among the more modern buildings, Palazzo Meroni, between Corso Italia and Corso di Porta Romana, stands out with its extraordinary combination of Liberty and Rococo styles. Nearby, the imposing building housing the Cavalieri Hotel is equally interesting and features a curved facade with sculptures representing four episodes of life. Both buildings are only visible from the outside.
The Fascist era brought the impressive INPS building, designed by architect Marcello Piacentini in 1931 to house the National Social Insurance Fund. Again, the facade is adorned with beautiful sculptures that symbolize eternal values such as amor, domus, and labor.
Finally, just a stone's throw from Piazza Missori stands the Velasca Tower, a uniquely-shaped, grand building that’s an iconic symbol of Milan's skyline and recently underwent an extensive restoration.
Take note of these addresses
Piazza Missori hosts one of the most beautiful panoramic rooftop bars in Milan for an aperitif: The Roof, the refined terrace of the Cavalieri hotel, with a fantastic view of the city.
For a quick lunch, the Civelli family's deli has been a staple in the community for over 60 years. And, just a stone's throw away from the square, the Rabbit Hole offers a sweet break in true Alice in Wonderland style.
Whenever you're in the area, Exit, the restaurant of Michelin-starred chef Perdomo, is perfect for a gourmet dinner. Alternatively, if you want to try international cuisine, Gastronomia Yamamoto serves authentic dishes straight from the land of the Rising Sun.
Lastly, if you're looking for some shopping, the area has a number of historic brands that offer high-quality artisanal products, such as Città di Londra 1949's knitwear, Fratelli Lorenzi's knives, Viganò 1919's vintage accessories, and Galli pastry shop's sweet delights
To reach Piazza Missori, simply take the yellow M3 metro line and get off at the Missori stop - you'll be able to spot remains of the ancient Decumanus Maximus road on the mezzanine.
There's also a bike sharing station and lots of bus and tram stops, including the 19 that goes to Lambrate station and 16 that goes to the San Siro Stadium.
The real estate market in Piazza Missori
In terms of real estate, Piazza Missori offers a central location where office spaces and residential buildings manly from the 1950s-1970s coexist.
The neighborhood is home to financial institutions as well as large companies like Meta and soon Deloitte, which is moving its headquarters to nearby Corso Italia at the end of the year.
This area is also highly attractive for high-end hospitality, as evidenced by the Radisson Collection Hotel Palazzo Touring Club, which recently opened in the former headquarters of the Italian Touring Club, and the soon-to-open Edition Hotel operated by Marriott International, both within a few steps from Piazza Missori.