AROUND MILAN: discovering the Sempione/Arena area
This vibrant residential neighborhood in the heart of Milan is renowned for its delightful park and is among the city's most popular areas, thanks to a diverse selection of bars and restaurants, as well as a wealth of historical and cultural attractions.
The Sempione/Arena area is a residential neighborhood packed with attractions. It's a Milanese corner that retains traces of the avant-garde movements that influenced its architecture and urban design during the Napoleonic era.
Given its central position and abundance of green spaces, this is one of the most sought-after locations for those seeking to buy a house in Milan. Sempione Park, a large natural oasis with multiple trails for outdoor activities, is a particular highlight.
The surrounding areas are equally captivating: to the east is the picturesque via Paolo Sarpi, the heart of Chinatown, as well as the elegant Moscova district, while to the west lies the futuristic shopping district of CityLife.
History and fun facts
The Sempione/Arena district is centered around Corso Sempione, a grand tree-lined avenue inaugurated in 1801 as the first section of Napoleon's grand road axis meant to connect Milan and Paris.
Five years later, in 1806, a triumphal arch (now known as the Arch of Peace) was erected at the entrance of Corso Sempione to celebrate the wedding of Eugenio di Beauharnais, the viceroy of Italy and Napoleon's adopted son. The Civic Arena, a magnificent amphitheater commissioned by Napoleon to host public celebrations and shows, was also built that same year.
But this area owes its current green and residential configuration to the implementation of the city's very first urban plan, which was signed by municipal engineer Cesare Beruto. This strategic intervention opened Milan to modernity and created the magnificent Sempione Park (1890-1893) and other developments in this area.
What to see
Sempione Park, located behind the Sforza Castle, is undoubtedly one of the main attractions in the area. Spanning over 386,000 square meters, it’s considered Milan's green heart and boasts numerous historical and cultural buildings. Among them are the Triennale di Milano, the Civic Aquarium, the Torre Branca with its panoramic terrace, and the Palazzina Appiani, a charming neoclassical architectural piece.
Inside the park is also the Arena Civica, the imposing structure commissioned by Napoleon to recreate the ambiance of the ancient Roman amphitheaters. It was inaugurated in 1807 with a glorious naval battle spectacle. Today it’s the oldest multifunctional sports facility in Italy (it even saw the debut of the Italian national football team in 1910!).
A short walk from the park is Piazza Sempione, a popular nightlife spot under the shadow of the Arch of Peace, a symbol of Milan. The area is full of bars and clubs that come alive at sunset, plus little treasures like the Basilica of Corpus Domini. Its unfinished facade hides a great deal of decorative richness, including a painting attributed to Guido Reni.
Finally, there’s also the historic Rai production center designed by Gio Ponti in 1939, just a few steps away. This is where Italian television was born in 1952.
Take note of these addresses
The Sempione/Arena district is home to a variety of excellent culinary offerings. Da Gino il Bonaparte serves up delicious fish dishes, while Chef Cerveni's Michelin-starred cuisine can be found at Terrazza Triennale-Osteria con Vista. There's also El Porteño Arena, which specializes in authentic Argentinean flavors, and Cantina del Giannone, which offers traditional dishes with a modern twist.
For an aperitivo, Giangol has a lovely outdoor seating area with a view of the Arch of Peace and excellent cocktails. Those who love nature can grab a bite or a drink at Cascina Nascosta, a charming spot in Sempione Park with a magical countryside atmosphere.
The Sempione/Arena district is also a great place to shop. The Orangorilla concept store offers unique clothing and objects, while Restelli sells handmade gloves. Additionally, Techne has beautiful jewelry, and Nicoletta's gastronomic boutique is a must for mountain products. Last but not least, the market on Via Fauchè is one of the most popular in the city thanks to its selection of branded products and gourmet food stalls.
Public transportation is readily available in this part of Milan, allowing quick access to the city's main areas. Multiple metro stops are conveniently located within walking distance, including Gerusalemme and Domodossola on the lilac line M5 and Lanza and Moscova on the green line M2.
In addition, there are several bus and tram options, such as buses 57 and 43 and trams 10, 12, and 14. For those feeling nostalgic, the historic line 1 still utilizes trams from the 1920s and passes through this area.
The real estate market in the Sempione/Arena area
The Sempione/Arena area is predominantly residential, with a diverse array of neighborhood shops, bars, and restaurants, which makes it a very interesting location.
Here, modern and elegant buildings alternate with historic palaces and icons of Milanese architecture. There's Casa Rustici, designed by Terragni and Lingeri between 1933 and 1935 and considered as a great example of Milanese rationalism, and the INA skyscraper, which was built by Piero Bottoni between 1953 and 1958 and became a landmark of modern architecture and urban planning.