Alongside the Bosco Verticale skyscraper - pioneer of environmental regeneration thanks to the living forest on its staggered balconies - the futuristic towers that have transformed Milano’s skyline coexist with the piazzas where locals and visitors sit outdoors to chat. Passers-by might overhear the clientele discussing their latest trips, giving advice on how to fix a bike, exchanging views on the latest chef or maybe even brainstorming an advertising campaign. In the Isola district take a pleasant stroll along streets, such as the popular via Borsieri, lined with clubs, kebab shops, trattorias and restaurants, a bustling part of the lively Milanese nightlife

Enjoy a concert at the Blue Note, the excellent jazz venue named after the New York original, or sip a cocktail at one of the vibrant bars, visit the evocative Casa della Memoria and the Santa Maria alla Fontana church before exploring the delights of the local covered food market. Tradition melds with modernity in this attractive district which embraces change but has still maintained its Milanese character.

Bosco Verticale: one of the most innovative and exclusive skyscrapers in the world

Is it possible to live in a forest in the city centre? Thanks to Bosco Verticale, it certainly is. This high-rise, which has won numerous awards both as "the most beautiful skyscraper in the world" and as a model of sustainable urban regeneration and design, stands on the edge of the Isola district with its two residential towers, respectively 111 metres and 78 metres high.

 

The impressive facades are enveloped by 800 trees, 15,000 plants and 5,000 shrubs, equivalent to 30,000 sqm of woodland: a unique and active interface to the surrounding environment as it changes colours with each season, making it one of Milano’s most instagrammable buildings.

Casa della Memoria: looking to the past to imagine the future

To the rear of the Vertical Forest stands a unique building that interacts with those who approach it. The Casa della Memoria (House of Memory) is a red brick edifice created to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Liberation, a public space dedicated to the values of freedom and democracy, and a monument to those who fought against fascism along with the victims of terrorism and the late 20th-century massacres.

 

The facades of different coloured bricks seem to converse with the viewer: nineteen framed squares depict historical images and portraits narrating pivotal events in the history of the Liberation and some images sourced from photographs that capture salient moments in the history of Milano.

 

The interior spaces are dedicated to cultural events and the archives.

 

Insider tip: enter to admire the large yellow spiral ramp that connects the different floors. A perfect shot for your social media page!

Church of Santa Maria alla Fontana: a richly decorated gem with a source of holy water

Many places in Milano are linked to miracles and one of these is the sanctuary of Santa Maria alla Fontana in the Isola district, specially constructed to conserve a source of miraculous holy water.

 

Much beloved by the faithful since the 12th century, this sacred place is a pilgrimage destination for sufferers of arthritis and arthrosis who bathe in the water that gushes from 11 fountains. According to tradition, the governor of Milano commissioned the church in 1507 after being miraculously cured of an eye disease.

 

Even today, the beauty of the magnificent portico above the fountains is still well-conserved: incredibly colourful frescoes of saints and angels look down on those who bathe in the miraculous water.

The new covered market: a taste for living in the neighbourhood

The Isola Market is a newly renovated place to sit, chat and eat something tasty in Piazzale Lagosta. Open daily, from 9:00 am to midnight, the ten historic neighbourhood market stalls sell meats, salami, cheeses, pasta, fish, pastries and much more, food can also be cooked to order and eaten in the outdoor area.

 

From the legendary decades-old butcher's shop, to the baker, the vibrant fruit stall, dishes that mix Caribbean ingredients and oriental flavours, craft beers, natural wines, Italian artisanal products and fresh fish ready to eat, there is something for all tastes. Not forgetting the butcher shop that sells meats from all over the world, including zebra or kangaroo.

 

Community engagement is also very important: an artisan ice cream parlour with pastry shop under the expert eye of Viviana Varese, the 1-star Michelin chef, is managed by an all-female team, thanks to the collaboration with the CADMI women’s charity which donates 1 euro for every kilogram of ice cream sold.

 

The sustainability values that characterise the forward-thinking Isola district are also evident here as the market is completely plastic-free.

 

The perfect place to enjoy a mix of tradition and innovation, right in the heart of the neighbourhood.

Explore the district that embraces tradition and modernity

We suggest taking a stroll around Isola to absorb the traditions of old Milano. Shops, cultural clubs and historic botteghe line the streets, but if you look upwards you can catch a glimpse of the nearby modern skyscrapers.

 

Tradition and contemporaneity come together to lead everyone at a slower and more sustainable pace.

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