Around Milan : Discovering the Cenisio / Monumentale Area
The Cenisio/Monumentale area, which was long overlooked despite its proximity to the city center, is undergoing a remarkable transformation fueled by the regeneration of the former Farini rail yard.
In the northwestern quadrant of Milan, the Cenisio/Monumentale area is a residential zone with a diverse range of services. Positioned at the heart of a strategically important part of the city it shares borders with Paolo Sarpi, Milan's vibrant and multicultural Chinatown, and is conveniently located near Isola, one of the city’s most captivating neighborhoods.
This charming district boasts tree-lined avenues and verdant green spaces that beautifully complement a blend of historic buildings, former industrial sites, and more contemporary constructions, creating an interesting architectural contrast.
Conosciuta anche come La Simonetta in riferimento a uno degli edifici simbolo del quartiere, questa zona di Milano confina con l’ex scalo ferroviario Farini, attualmente oggetto di un ambizioso progetto di riqualificazione che vedrà la nascita di un parco di oltre 25 ettari, al cui interno ospiterà la nuova sede dell’Accademia di Brera e un importante progetto di social housing.
This ongoing renovation project is breathing new life into the neighborhood, particularly in the northern section of Cenisio, where a multitude of shops and establishments are rapidly emerging. In fact, the area is already being referred to by the acronym NoCe (North of Cenisio), highlighting its newfound appeal.
History and fun facts
The Cenisio/Monumentale area was originally part of a small rural village called Borgo degli Ortolani. It was a vibrant area with many vegetable gardens and fruit orchards that supplied the city markets. Situated outside the city walls, the village served as an entryway to Milan for those arriving from Varese.
Significant changes occurred in the 19th century that had a profound impact on the village. One pivotal development was the establishment of the Monumental Cemetery in 1866, designed to consolidate the previously dispersed graves from several cemeteries in Milan. This marked the gradual integration of the village into the expanding city, resulting in a gradual shift in its character and identity. These changes were further propelled by the implementation of the Beruto urban plan in 1884, which made history as the city's very first urban development scheme.
During that period, this area emerged as a major industrial and commercial hub for Milan. Nowadays, it has predominantly evolved into a residential neighborhood.
What to see
The most iconic monument in this area of Milan is undoubtedly the Monumental Cemetery, an extraordinary open-air museum of sculptural art. Here, renowned Milanese figures such as Alessandro Manzoni, Dario Fo, and Alda Merini, found their final resting place.
Just a short walk from the Monumental Cemetery, you'll come across the ADI Design Museum, which showcases the objects awarded the Compasso d'Oro, the prestigious prize for industrial design established in 1954 by Gio Ponti.
Heading north of the cemetery, along Via Stilicone, you'll find another gem of this neighborhood: Villa Simonetta. Built in the fifteenth century by order of Ludovico il Moro's chancellor, this villa is a splendid example of Renaissance architecture in the city and boasts a fascinating history. Nowadays, it serves as the home of the Civic School of Music.
Another interesting thing to see along Via Stilicone is the Lia Rumma Gallery, a beautiful exhibition space that hosts shows and projects by famous artists such as Marina Abramovic, William Kentridge, and Vanessa Beecroft. Originally founded by two young collectors in the 1960s, it has now become a renowned hub for the promotion of contemporary art.
Another noteworthy destination for art enthusiasts in the area is the Fabbrica del Vapore, a vast exhibition space situated in the former industrial facility on Via Procaccini, near the Monumental Cemetery. It offers a rich calendar of exhibitions and events ranging from design to photography.
A leisurely stroll between Cenisio and Monumentale then reveals unexpected corners, such as Santo Spirito alla Ghisolfa, a hidden 16th-century church hidden among residential buildings, the striking white and red tent of the Piccola Scuola di Circo (Little School of Circus), and the Muro della Gentilezza (Wall of Kindness) on Via Luigi Nono, an open-air wardrobe where people can leave or take whatever they want.
Take note of these addresses
The Cenisio/Monumentale area is rich in historical shops that coexist harmoniously with trendy new establishments, creating a fascinating and dynamic mix that defines the neighborhood's identity.
Among the must-visit addresses are LOM, the cocktail bar with vegetarian cuisine housed inside an ancient farmhouse, Trattoria La Rava e La Fava with its fascinating retro atmosphere, and Osteria Caneva serving delicious Sardinian specialties.
For a perfect summer aperitif, make sure to visit Ceresio7, located on the rooftop of the former Enel building. It’s a trendy hotspot where you can enjoy refreshing cocktails while lounging by the pool and taking in breathtaking views of the city skyline. And if you're someone who appreciates the cozy ambiance of pubs, Mulligans is the ultimate destination for an authentic Irish pint.
The Cenisio/Monumentale area is well-served by the MM5 metro line, with convenient stops at Cenisio and Monumentale. This metro line offers easy access to all the major destinations in Milan. Additionally, the area's proximity to Milan Porta Garibaldi train station facilitates travel beyond the city limits. There are also reliable tram and bus options that connect the neighborhood with the rest of the city.
There are also reliable tram and bus options that connect the neighborhood with the rest of the city. One example is tram 14, which provides a direct route to Piazza Duomo.
The real estate market in the Cenisio / Monumentale area
The real estate market in the Cenisio/Monumentale area is rather dynamic due to its strategic location, providing the opportunity to live in a neighborhood context surrounded by some of the city's most prestigious areas, such as Isola, City Life, and Sempione.
A key factor that significantly contributes to the dynamism of the real estate market in this area, particularly in terms of investment, is the redevelopment of the former Farini rail yard. This project is set to have a substantial impact on property values, amplifying the area's appeal to potential buyers and tenants