Fabian V. Thobe A citizen of the world, a Milanese in NoLo

Once known as a socially struggling district, the triangle between Viale Monza, Via Padova and the northern Martesana Waterway, surged to become an up-and-coming neighbourhood of Milano.

You might have figured out by now that NoLo, despite not enjoying the same fame as Moscova or Navigli (yet), has a lot to offer. Easy access to public transportation, a lot to see and many green spaces make it a great choice if you want to move to Milan and seek a budget-friendly area to live with all the perks of a big metropolitan area.

NoLo (a portmanteau created by combining North of Loreto or “Nord di Loreto”) neighbourhood spans from the busy Piazzale Loreto, up to the beautiful green waterway of the Naviglio Martesana. The comparably low rents and ever-growing quantity of bars and restaurants make this quarter a great choice to start your life in Milano. I did so. This is my personal selection of tips about NoLo:

Where to go?

When you start strolling around in NoLo, the first thing you notice is the diversity: you find Halal butchers in between Chinese restaurants and bohemian style bars. The fun part about NoLo is discovering nice places to go, where you don’t expect them.

Starting at the north end, one of the locations that stand out is the Cascina Martesana: a former farmhouse,immersed into the green of the “Parco della Martesana”, its outdoor area and bar is frequently home to live room-sized indie concerts in an intimate yet relaxed atmosphere over the entire summer and frequented plenty by students of the surrounding universities.

The “Salumeria del Design” instead, open all year long, is a great a location for the favourite habit of Milanese people, the so-called “Aperitivo”: practically a combination of drinks and tapas-style food before passing on to dinner (you probably already figured out, that Italian culture found plenty of time slots to nibble all around the clock). 

Close by, walking down the seemingly quiet Via Rovetta from north to south will reveal not only a Centro Arci, one of many community-driven local bars and concert locations spread across the entire city but also restaurants such as the Manna, an untypically posh spot for the neighbourhood, serving classical Italian cuisine. Another staple is Trattoria da Abele featuring a different risotto each day.

On the south end of NoLo, you can find a variety of Chinese and Asian restaurants offering everything from handmade noodles to Hunan (Mao) or Cantonese cuisine.


How about events?

NoLo has one major event: the NoLo Fringe Festival and the “San Nolo” Award, a lovable reference to Italy’s most famous national music award Sanremo. During the festival, A variety of comedians, musicians, and actors are invited to perform in the streets and venues of the neighbourhood, and after a week of not-so-serious shows, NoLo awards the best performance with the San Nolo Award. You should definitely go, as roaming between the various performance locations is a great way to get to explore the area better and get social.

Where to exercise?

NoLo hosts plenty of opportunities for you to move and exercise!

While the Naviglio Martesana Waterway, once commissioned by the Duke of Milan in 1450 to transport supplies from the north of Lombardy into the City, now offers you a perfect opportunity to cycle your way up to the beautiful conservation areas around the river “Adda”.

Actually, if you cycle long enough and you can even get up to Lake Como without ever crossing over roads.

The Parco Martesana in the north and the Parco Trotter in the center of NoLo offer you beautiful green gems to exercise and jog.

In addition to the outdoor locations you can find the MilanoSport Centro Sportivo Fossati venue and Piscina Bacone close to Loreto Square, along with plenty of gyms all by Viale Monza - they might not be as fancy as their city center exclusive counterparts, but they will also go much softer on your budget in a country where gym memberships frequently topple a four-digit amount for a yearly membership.

 Where to shop?

While NoLo is starting to blossom with boutiques and second-hand vintage retailers, it is located in direct proximity of one of Milano’s most frequented shopping areas: walk down Corso Buenos Aires: you will find all kinds of fashion retailers down to the bookstore and everything in between and if you are enthusiastic about walking and shopping a little more, get to San Babila and explore Corso Vittorio Emanuele.

How to move around in and beyond NoLo?

NoLo offers you plenty of options for moving around: Being uniquely situated in between two major metro lines M1 and M2, you can easily reach the city in less than 20 minutes if you live close by the metro. Nevertheless, it’s advisable to get a bicycle: both campuses, the one of the University of Milano-Bicocca and the Politecnico, are only a ten-minute ride away and recent construction works by the city created bikeways that cover almost the entire distance between NoLo and Duomo.


Where to get groceries?

Your daily needs can be easily covered in NoLo: with plenty of smaller and bigger supermarkets, some even open 24 hours, you can easily find an open grocery store at any time of the day. In addition, you have plenty of smaller stores all over the neighbourhood to get the basic needs covered. Don't forget the covered market of Viale Monza where you can shop as well as eat and drink on the spot.

Given its residential character, you will have a hard time catering to special needs though: for cosmetic stores or other special-purpose stores, it’s better to take the red line for a stop or two and move to Corso Buenos Aires.