Porta Romana: What to Do

Porta Romana's boutiques and galleries are an unmissable attraction this Design Week.

by Ife Adedeji and Eleonora Betesh

They say all roads lead to Rome, but Corso di Porta Romana actually leads straight into the centre of town; this connection is evident in the architecture of the surrounding buildings. Known for its spas, restaurants and chic boutiques, Porta Romana has always been a classy, residential quarter. Here, the vestiges of the city walls and a ceremonial gate are Spanish and not Roman, but more importantly the area is home to some particularly trendy spaces, including Fondazione Prada and the Bocconi University, which was named World Building of the Year in 2008. The district is becoming so fashionable that it might soon be wearing the crown as the coolest area in the city.

Fondazione Prada

Surprisingly, this venue doesn’t have much to do with fashion, although its name evokes nothing but the word. Formerly functioning as a gin distillery, it now host several collections of contemporary art, and a café that draws on cinematic influences. It’s a must-see venue in Milan.

Fabbrica Orobia


If the ingenious collection of installations that held here by Nike last year is anything to go by you’ll want to clear your schedule for a visit to this former factory space.

Blå Station Showroom


This is where curiosity lands you during Salone del Mobile! Here, the products reflect the ethos of owner, Swedish furniture designer Börge Lindau, who believes that furniture should be better and offer more than what is already out there.

Bla Station2365Bla Station, Milan

The Room

This loft style scene is the perfect setting for intimate gigs. The industrial deco has been executed with a contemporary flair, and it’s easy to imagine that you’re in NYC and not in Milan.

MAV Arreda

This may be heaven, or something very close to it if you are a furniture lover with Italian taste. MAV has so many of the country’s top brands located all under one roof you may be stuck there for quite a while.

QC Terme di Milano

Perhaps one the city's most unique and unexpected cultural venues, the Terme di Milano is a wellness center with an outdoor thermal pool, well loved by locals during the week and especially on weekends. Located right at the historic gate of Porta Romana, the QC Terme is a great place to unwind, relax those tired muscles, book a massage and enjoy an aperitivo in your robe while sipping on champagne.

qctermeQC Terme, Milan

Rotonda della Besana

Although this historic building was actually where lepers were sent to heal in privacy from the social sphere, today, the venue is a hotspot during Salone del Mobile with some of the best exhibits on display. Make sure to add this destination to your itinerary, and on the way, enjoy lunch or a refreshment among the belles, beaus and internationals in town. Kitchen closes at 23:30.

Santeria Social Club

The Santeria Social Club is a great venue for live music and cultural dinners in Porta Romana. During the week, the team organizes workshops, seminars and art exhibits that bring the best of breed together. Have a look at their special schedule for Design Week, where music, design and cuisine converge. 

Bagni Misteriosi 

When the temperatures rise in Milan, there is only one source that can soothe the faint-hearted: water. Knowing that a body of water is hard to come by in this particular city, the opening of this public swimming pool has fast become a summer favorite, and for just reason. There is an on-site restaurant and bar to fulfil your cravings, and proper locker rooms so you can easily shift from day to night. During the winter, the vast pools transform to skating rinks. Catch the onset of spring in the city with a drink in the open air during the week.

bagni misteriosiBagni Misteriosi, Milan

Arci Bellezza

From poetry to tango and art classes, Arci Bellezza is a well known community center with branches across the city. The project offers a diverse range of activities for both local and visitors who are looking for a fully immersive experience in Milan’s alternative and authentic side during design week. You will have to buy an annual membership at a decent price, which grants you one-year access to their events. If you plan on coming back for a visit, it's actually a great idea.

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