Milano: modern, classy, beautiful, and a little crazy. It’s the perfect European city.

Everybody knows about Milano being capital of design and fashion, but it’s less appreciated that Milano really is college city.

In fact, there are more than 100,000 out-of-town students living in the city at any given time and this gives Milano muchof its youthful energy. The excellence of Milanese universities (in medicine & life sciences, business & economics, engineering & IT, arts & media, etc.) attracts young women and men from the rest of the country and the world. If you are international student wondering which part of the city you'd like to live in, we suggest you go beyond the immediate vicinity of your university campus. Thanks to Milano's fast and reliable public transit system, it is perfectly ok to live in the city periphery. In fact, that's where you are most likely to find the true Milanese spirit in all its multicultural diversity.

 

Here is our mapping of the six neighborhoods of Milano where college students dominate daily life and mobility flows: Bovisa and Bicocca to the North, Statale and Cattolica in the Center, Città Studi and Politecnico to the East, Bocconi and Porta Romana to the South of the city

 

Bovisa, Bocconi, Bicocca, Cattolica, Statale, Città Studi

BOVISA

Bovisa was the first working class neighborhood of Italy. Today it is the hub of the Polytechnic for Industrial Design, Energy and Engineering Management. The old factories have turned into nightclubs and restaurants and a whole new neighborhood has sprung to life in the 2000s side by side with typical Milanese tenement buildings, the so-called case di ringhiera (railings house) with doors

exiting on long balconies looking onto courtyards. Students and the creative class have moved in, but the district retains a popular and friendly flavor, with Latin and Asian influences adding to the mix of the neighborhood which can be easily reached by suburban and subterranean train.

 

HOW TO GET THERE

Bovisa FN – all trains from Cadorna Station and most Passante lines (rail link stations marked by the green “S” on a blue badge) stop here, and Malpensa Express trains from Cadorna and Centrale also pick up passengers at Bovisa Station destined for the airport.

 

WHY GO THERE

Bovisa is an old industrial district which has been transformed by the coming of the Polytechnic University of Milan in the area right by the Bovisa railway station that takes you to Cadorna Station and downtown Milano in 10 minutes, Its case di ringhiera (railings homes) offer affordable and picturesque accommodation to a growing population of students, in this hard-core Milanese 'hood that extends to Piazza Bausan, with its 1920s fountain and ring of cafés around the tram terminus and Via Imbriani, with its electric trolley bus that goes to the station. The old industrial lots of the area have been turned into diners, cafeterias and trendy nightlife venues such as Spirit de Milan. The Bovisa campus, hosts the Polytechnic's Department of Design, as well as Management, Energy and Aerospace. On the other side of the station there is the mysterious Goccia (the Drop), with its trees and gasometers, and then the Villapizzone station, a whole separate district with green parks and children's schools which has developed around the historic villa. Then walk to Piazza Pompeo Castelli and jump on the tram #19 which has its terminus in the luscious rotunda. It will take you all across the city to Lambrate Station in Città Studi.

CITTÀ STUDI - POLITECNICO

Città Studi is home to all the science, engineering and architecture students of Milano.

Città Studi has a different street grid from the rest of the city: spacious streets intersect at right angles with tree-lined boulevards marked by neoclassical and neo-Gothic buildings.

Set between Porta Venezia and Lambrate, it looks more like Turin than Milan, even if it is a very Milanese neighborhood. Built by the fascist regime between the end of the 1920s and the beginning of the 1930s around Piazza Leonardo Da Vinci, Città Studi hosts the Faculties of Engineering and Architecture of the Politecnico di Milano, the best engineering school in the country, and all the scientific departments of the State University of Milan (e.g. Physics and Biology ). As la Statale is planning to move away from the neighborhodd, what everybody in Milano calls il Poli is planning to expand further in the district.

 

HOW TO GET THERE

Metro Green M2: Piola, Lambrate

 

WHY GO THERE

Piazza Leonardo da Vinci is the heart of the area, because that's where the headquarters of the Polytechnic University of Milan are located.

The Poli has trained engineers and architects from all over the world for over a century. All around, there are also the departments of Physics, Biology, Pharmacy, Agriculture, Pharmacy, of the Statale, so don't be surprised that many of the people in the neighborhood are either students or faculty. Casa dello Studente (viale Romagna 62) is the biggest student dorm in the city and like most of the area was built in the 1930s. Città Studi is replete with pubs, pizzerias, ice cream shops and sports facilities catering to students. Birrificio di Lambrate, near the railway station, is the oldest microbrewery in the city and a great place for una media after class.

Città Studi is tree-lined and quiet, but full of pubs, pizzerias, ice cream parlors and sports facilities aimed at students, but open to all. The Ponzio pool in via Ampère,

100 meters long, is the largest in the city. In summer, its notoriously cold waters are a safe refreshment and the large lawn is perfect for sunbathing. The typical architecture of the neighborhood can be admired by visiting the Corbellini-Wasserman House (1934) or by observing the neo-Gothic building with bronze spiers of the Institute of Chemical and Biochemical Research in via Giuseppe Colombo 81, which seems to have come out of Ghostbusters.

Set to the eastern periphery of Città Studi, Ortica is one of city’s most authentic neighborhoods, inhabited by working-class Milanese and backdrop of tragicomic songs about hard life in Milano when it was an industrial city. A major project of urban art made by OrticaNoodles artist collective decorates the ‘hood with 20 murals retwlling the story of working-class Milano in the twentieth century. The best way to get there is taking tram #5 that has its terminus at Ortica (which in Italy means poison ivy). It is one of those 1920s streetcars named desire of Milan;)

BICOCCA

For generations, Bicocca meant the Pirelli tire plant, but over the last three decades the area has become the home of the Bicocca University of Milan, which offers the whole range of public higher education, including medicine, sociology, statistics and economics. Set in the north-east of the city, between Niguarda and Viale Monza. Bicocca is also a stylishly modern neighborhood, complete with a movie mall, a big auditorium (Arcimboldi Theater) and a major center for contemporary art (Hangar Bicocca). The Lilac subway line (M5), completed for Expo 2015, provides fast access to the whole area, which is huge and can be observed from above from Collina dei Ciliegi, one of Milano's only two hills.

 

HOW TO GET THERE

Metro Lilac M4: Bicocca, Ponale, Bignami - Passante: Greco Pirelli

WHY GO THERE

La Bicocca was entirely rebuilt in the mid-1990s, on the areas abandoned by the gigantic factory of Viale Sarca. It is a residential area for the middle and upper classes built around the huge functionalist-style campus of the Bicocca University, founded in 1998, which today has almost 36,000 students enrolled. La Bicocca, whose international standing is constantly growing, went to pre-existing disciplinary gaps in the city’s public offer of academic programs (economics, sociology and psychology, for example). Apart from the student population and the area residents, the neighborhood remains insufficiently explored by the rest of the Milanese, not to mention the tourists. Yet it contains unique cultural institutions, as well as two huge shopping malls and a pedestrian bridge that allows easy access to the neighboring Parco Nord.

In a neighborhood not particularly planned for human congregation, Piazza Trivulziana is a pleasant exception, with its basin shape, the clock and the bank that make you feel in a Swiss city, surrounded as you are by refined shops and specialized bookstores, tobacconists, well-stocked minimarket and an array of options for a quick bite between classes.

Pirelli Hangar Bicocca (M4 Ponale), in business since 2004, is a leading contemporary art institution, especially with regard to large installations and video art. Exhibits are often free of charge and the large foyer in pure Milanese interior design offer affordable delights for foodies and cocktail lovers who chat about the art show just seen or are doing some networking.

The Teatro degli Arcimboldi, inaugurated in 2002 and located in Viale dell’Innovazione, is the theater where great musicals are staged in Milan. At its birth, it replaced the Scala for three years when the opera house was closed for the renovation. Its proscenium is in fact identical in size to the Scala theater.

Milan is a flat city with no hills. The exceptions are the Montagnetta di San Siro and, since 2007, the Collina dei Ciliegi della Bicocca, which rises between a model workers' village of the late 19th century and the buildings of the University. It is nice to walk to the top when darkness falls and observe the skyline of Milan in the 21st century.

From Bicocca, it's easy to foot or cycle to Parco Nord, the biggest green lung of the city, covering an area of 7,9 square kilometers. This is where the Northern Milanese like to do their running or picnicking, perhaps watching sunset at Sun Stracc, an open-air bar by a neat artificial lake, next to the terminus of tram #4 the goes thru Niguarda, a truly Milanese neighborhood with a strong civic life, worth a visit in its own right (walk down Via Ornato).

STATALE AND POLICLINICO

The State University of Milan (Università Statale di Milano) is the oldest and largest academic institution in the city. Located downtown, in centrally-located Via Festa del Perdono, La Statale is hosted in a medieval building replete of beautiful cloisters. There students study law, philosophy, history, mathematics, and other disciplines, while political science has its own campus in Via Conservatorio (M1 S.Babila), and science faculties are located in Città Studi (M2 Piola), but will be transferred to a new campus to be erected in the MIND District to the north-west of the city. To the south of Festa del Perdono, beyond the ring of canals that used to circle around the city, lies Policlinico, Milan’s central hospital that has been undergoing major renovation with whole new buildings springing from the ground. Most Milanese are born here and their parents come from all corners of the world. Statale is an intellectual powerhouse and its academic experts help in city planning, municipal health, urban policy, and a host of other areas of public interest.

 

HOW TO GET THERE

Metro M3 Yellow: Missori, Crocetta – M1/M3 Duomo (after 2023, the M4 will have the Sforza Policlinico stop).

 

WHY GO THERE

Here we are in fifteenth-century Milano pure and simple, to the architecture of the time of the Sforzas, and only narrow cobbled streets link Statale to the Duomo, which is at a walkable distance, past Via Larga and its tram lines. Most students don’t have enough money to live here but they stay in the hood until the night falls, populating nearby Piazza Santo Stefano, with a church that hosts a chapel of bones, pizzerias and hamburger joints. The park and the bars in front of the university and the cafés along delectable Via Laghetto is where students hang out during the day. At the corner between Largo Richini and Via Festa del Perdono, there is a bookstore with the largest selection of academic and science titles in the city.

The Guastalla Gardens are a semi-hidden green gem behind Festa del Perdono, not far from the Mangiagalli Clinic, in via della Commenda. It has an exquisite Baroque-style fish pond that still hosts a sprawling population of carps, a suggestive and mesmerizing corner behind the State University.

Via Orti, also near the Crocetta metro station, is one of the emerging streets for food lovers in Milan, as is full of old and new trattorias and bakeries, political circles and bookstores, near the Liceo Berchet, one of the best high schools of the city.

BOCCONI AND PORTA ROMANA

The area to the south-east of the city, close to the Spanish walls and bordered by three historic gates -- Ludovica, Vigentina and Romana – and the Navigli area, is dominated by the presence of the Bocconi University, one of the best in world for business and economics, its large modernist campus recently greatly expanded with the opening of the new glass-and-green headquarters of the management school. Bocconi students live in apartments and university residences scattered around the neighborhood which consequently has a very high concentration of coffee, pokè, piadinerie and wine bars, sushi bars and cocktail bars. This is perhaps the section of Milan where English is best spoken and everyone jogs at the Ravizza Park, among young people from the five continents who are always smiling and busy. Other major universities are located nearby, like IULM, a private university with over 5,000 students specializing in languages, marketing and communication, with a large and modern campus located to the south of the Romolo subway and train station. Another popular school is IED – Istituto Europeo di Design, the provides professional training in video, fashion and photography. Last but most notable is NABA, Milano’s private academy of arts,

with its 3,000 students and Erasmus program. Located near Conchetta, in the heart of the Navigli neighborhood with its canals, offers degrees in Visual Arts, Design, Computer Graphics and Performing Arts.

 

HOW TO GET THERE

Metro M3 Yellow P.ta Romana – Metro M2 Green: P.ta Genova, Romolo FS

 

WHY GO THERE

Porta Romana is one of the most beautiful and lively districts of the city, With a food district where you can find wine bars, typical restaurants, cafes and bookshops, several theaters (like the Franco Parenti for modern prose), and a lively weekly market in via Crema (on Friday – P.ta Romana subway stop), Porta Romana is a young and lively neighborhood, full of culture and coworking spaces. Its cultural slant is accentuated by its nearby presence of Fondazione Prada, a unique institution in the city with exhibitions and initiatives dedicated to international contemporary art. Populated by professionals and students, the area borders Scalo Romana, reachable from Piazzale Lodi and via Brembo, where a new district and new park will be built around the future Olympic Village of the Milano Cortina 2026 Winter Games. Students of Bocconi, IULM, NABA oscillate between Porta Romana and Navigli for a night out or a drink with friends. Porta Romana is busier during the day, while the canal promenades of the Navigli and the bars around the renovated Darsena basin get crowded at night.

Porta Romana’s meeting place is Piazza Medaglie d’oro at the intersection with Corso Lodi at the subway station. Riders charge their phones and wait for delivery orders outside fast food restaurants. Friends meet for the lunch break in the bookshop-café on the corner with Via Sabotino. Numerous bars and shops line the two sides of the Corso up to Piazza Buozzi, where all the Milanese have eaten roast chicken from the large kiosk in the center of the square a at least once in their lives.

CATTOLICA

The Catholic University of Milan (officially Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore) sits at the center of the Sant'Ambrogio neighborhood. Manifold meandering streets get there from corso Magenta and via De Amicis. The Church of Sant'Ambrogio is a Romanesque Basilica that is dear to the hearts of the Milanese. It is Milano's early medieval church and is of course devoted to the Patron Saint of Milano, who established the arch-bishopric along the lines of intellectual and moral rigor and solidarity with the poor as the Roman Empire was crumbling. La Cattolica, as everybody calls the university in Milano, is one of the city's prime institutions of learning. With its more than 10,000 students, working towards degrees ranging from law to sociology, economics and communication, languages and psychology, the university headquartered in Largo Gemelli churns out well-educated cadres for the Milanese economy. It also offers English-language degrees in economics, management and international relations.

 

Most of the students don't live in the neighborhood, but hang out during the day at the local bars (bar Magenta stands out) and cafeterias on Via Carducci, as you walk past Sant'Ambrogio towards Via S. Vittore and the Leonardo da Vinci Museum of Science and Technology (where you can also go inside a submarine). The large police station (a heritage of the fact that the university was one of the epicenters of Italian 1968) should soon be moved to accommodate the Cattolica's expansion, which already extends to Via Necchi and nearby streets.

 

 

HOW TO GET THERE

Metro M2 Green S. Ambrogio (after 2023, the new M4 line will intersect here), M1/M2 Cadorna FN

 

WHY GO THERE

The Cadorna Station is the the main destination of commuters coming into the city from the North. Always bustling with activity, the station and the square were entirely renovated in 1999 according to a project by legenedary Milanese architect Gae Aulentu. In front of it sits the Needle and Thread sculpture that reminds visitors of Milano’s sartorial prowess and fashion excellence. If you turn your head left as you exit the station you’ll see the ramparts of the Sforza Castle. It’s a great section of Milano: leafy Foro Buonaparte starts from there and takes you to the Strehler Theater and the picturesque shops and osterias of Corso Garibaldi.

Basilica of St. Ambrose (Sant'Ambrogio). Everything that’s Milanese can also be called ambrosiano. It was Saint Ambrose (340-397 CE) who put Milano on the world map, but making it the see of the Arch-Bishopric which still today retains formal differences in holy mass rites with respect to the Church of Rome. It was the dawn of Christianity in Europe, when Milano was briefly capital of the Western Roman Empire (286-402 CE). Ambrose cemented Milano's love affair with Catholic Christianity. Every year on December 7, the Arch-Bishop of Milano celebrates the traditional Mass of St. Ambrose in the Basilica. The official city holiday also marks two other important events: the Scala premiere and it is the day when Milanese families start decorating their Christmas trees. The Basilica of St. Ambrose with its Romanesque layout and two bell towers is dear to the hearts of the truly Milanese, who before entering the church like to put their fingers in the two holes of the Devil’s Column, where according to legend Satan had stuck his horns after losing a contest with the Saint.