AROUND MILAN – Discovering the Porta Romana neighborhood
Porta Romana is one Milan’s most iconic neighborhoods, once a prominent city entrance and now a dynamic and youthful district, eagerly preparing to host the Olympic Village for the 2026 Winter Games.
Located southeast of Milan’s city center, Porta Romana is a residential neighborhood of remarkable cultural richness, whose name echoes the profound historical roots of this area. Its streets boast a captivating mix of architectures where one can still find ancient noble palaces, refined Art Nouveau decorations, and even traces of old farmsteads that speak of a time when part of the area was rural.
The old Porta Romana railway yard will soon see the creation of the Olympic Village that will host athletes participating in the Milan-Cortina 2026 Winter Games. This addition will inject further dynamism into a neighborhood already renowned for its effervescent spirit. Historic shops, creative workshops, theaters, art galleries, co-working spaces, and a wide variety of restaurants harmoniously coexist here. Moreover, the close proximity to the University of Milan and the international campus of Bocconi University further enriches the neighborhood's atmosphere.
History and fun facts
Porta Romana is a neighborhood steeped in history, with its origins tracing back to the Roman era. During that time, the present-day Corso di Porta Romana served as the primary entrance point for travelers arriving from Rome. This bustling road welcomed a diverse array of individuals, from traders and legionaries to pilgrims and even emperors. They would pass beneath a magnificent entrance arch, flanked by stately arcades on either side. Unfortunately, very little of that triumphant road remained after the siege led by Frederick Barbarossa in 1162.
The neighborhood gained significant importance in the late 16th century, marked by the construction of imposing structures that would become iconic. Chief among these is the renowned arch gracing Piazza Medaglie d'Oro. Conceived in 1596 by order of Philip III of Spain, the Duke of Milan, for his marriage to Margaret of Austria, this monumental arch was erected as a majestic portal along the Spanish walls, evoking the architectural splendor of ancient Rome. Today, it stands as the symbol of the neighborhood.
From that momentous period until the end of the 18th century, Porta Romana served as a grand backdrop for opulent ceremonies and extravagant soirées attended by the local nobility. Amidst this aura of grandeur, beautiful residences came to life, enduring as testaments to the artistic and cultural fervor of their time. Then, modern urbanization led to the expansion of the neighborhood, with the opening of new streets and squares that helped define its present-day character.
What to see
Porta Romana boasts a wealth of remarkable attractions, with the Prada Foundation leading the way. Here, within the spaces that once hosted a distillery in the early 1900s, the renowned fashion brand has created a true citadel of culture and contemporary art, with a permanent collection, rotating exhibitions, a library, a cinema, a bar curated by filmmaker Wes Anderson, and a restaurant.
Just a stone's throw away, in the charming Olivetti Square, he STEP - Futurability District is an educational space designed to illustrate the impact of technology and digital innovation on our day-to-day lives. It offers a rich schedule of talks, workshops, and engaging sessions.
Walking through the streets of the neighborhood, you can admire architectural jewels that chronicle the different phases of its history. Among them, the 17th-century Palazzo Annoni, Casa Sartorio, which is reminiscent of the famous Flatiron Building in New York, and Palazzo Acerbi, once considered a dwelling of the devil, on whose façade you can still see a cannonball from the Cinque Giornate of Milan in 1848.
For nature enthusiasts, Porta Romana offers many green spaces to unwind al fresco. The most important ones include the Rotonda della Besana, which also plays host to the Children's Museum; the Guastalla Gardens featuring a beautiful 18th-century fishpond; and the Ravizza Park, a tribute to Alessandrina Ravizza who pioneered many battles for women's rights. The neighborhood is also dotted with little pockets of serenity amidst the urban landscape, such as the Bazlen Garden and the secret oasis of Via Orti.
Finally, there's no shortage of splendid churches that safeguard captivating narratives and masterful artworks. For instance, the church of Santa Maria al Paradiso preserves the famous stone with which Saint Barnabas is said to have announced Christianity on March 13, 51 AD, an episode that still lives in the neighborhood thanks to the celebration of Tredesin de Mars. Continuing along Corso di Porta Romana, you come across the Church of Sannazzaro in Brolo, a paleochristian building founded by Saint Ambrose.
Take note of these addresses
The Porta Romana district hosts a multitude of shops, restaurants, and venues, collectively contributing to its reputation as one of Milan's most vibrant and bustling areas.
Close to the iconic Porta Romana arch stand two famous local landmarks: the refined QC Termemilano complex, which ingeniously repurposed an old tram to house a biosauna, and the charming Bagni Misteriosi with their captivating outdoor pools reminiscent of the elegant 1930s style. Directly connected to the Baths, the Franco Parenti Theater is one of the most important in Milan, along with the Carcano Theater, also located in the neighborhood.
Porta Romana is also one of Milan’s main food districts, showcasing an eclectic array of dining establishments, from the traditional flavors of Osteria dell’Acquabella to the Argentine delights of Don Juan. Other must-visit places include the historic Rosticceria Giannasi in Piazza Buozzi, renowned for its succulent roast chicken, and Cascina Cuccagna, a centuries-old agricultural complex from the 1600s that houses a restaurant, a market with locally sourced products, and a calendar full of engaging events.
The best addresses for a good aperitif in Porta Romana include Cafè Madeira with its colorful cocktails, Dhole, an elegant venue with exotic influences, and Lacerba - Quisibeve inspired by the futuristic magazine of the early 1900s with the same name.
Lastly, the neighborhood offers a series of interesting addresses for shopping as well, including Bezpen Laboratory for artisanal clothing, Mi.Made for stylish accessories, and Del Selletto for luxurious robes. As an additional treat, every Friday a lively market takes place between Via Crema and Via Piacenza, offering an extensive range of products to explore.
As a central hub of the city, Porta Romana enjoys excellent connectivity through the urban transport network. The neighborhood is conveniently accessible via the M3 metro line (with stops at Lodi and Porta Romana) and the suburban railway line S9 Saronno-Seregno-Milan-Albairate.
For surface transportation, you can use tram lines 9 (connecting the neighborhood to the Central Station) and 16 (providing a route to the Duomo), in addition to several bus lines - 62, 65, 90, 91, 92, 162, 164 as well as the night service line NM3.
The real estate market in the Porta Romana neighborhood
The central location and the abundance of services and cultural sites make Porta Romana a highly desirable district for both the residential and office markets. While property prices in this area generally offer a slightly more budget-friendly option compared to the historic center, they are anticipated to experience an upward trajectory due to the planned redevelopment of the Porta Romana railway yard and the forthcoming construction of the Olympic Village.
This neighborhood also enjoys a favorable reputation among investors, primarily owing to its strategic proximity to important universities and prominent medical facilities within the city, which ensures a consistent influx of potential tenants.