© QC TermeMilano © QC TermeMilano

Porta Romana, Milan: a guide

The historic Milan district has a lively village atmosphere, with chic boutiques, top restaurants and hidden haunts.

Porta Romana has a warm, local district atmosphere, with a host of traditional Milanese trattorias, small artisanal shops, vintage fashion stores and attractive street markets by day, and a whole range of buzzing nightlife venues that provide all you need from aperitifs right through to an early breakfast the next morning.

The presence of fashion brands such as Prada ensures cohorts of chic clients. The Fondazione Prada museum down the road has recently opened to critical aclaim. The shopping streets, principally Viale Montenero and Corso di Porta Romana, offer a range of expensive and affordable brands, and in the same way, evening venues are relaxed and accessible. Even though there are no pedestrian precincts, some venues have launched al fresco trends such as Mom, where you can’t drink inside, you just grab a drink from the bar and head outside, chatting with your friends outside. No friends? No worries, you’ll find them in Porta Romana.

Terme di Milano  

Inside the Terme di Milano's Roman walls, lies a water inspired paradise. The outdoor area features hot pools, relaxation and treament rooms plus an old tram that has been converted into a sauna (see main photo). The lower level features water treatments and hot rooms with different restorative effects. A complimentary daily buffet and aperitivo is served in the evening uniting relaxation with socialising in true Milanese style.


© QC TermeMilano

An evening at Porta Romana

Start with aperitivo at Refeel, which has been a favourite for its cool, dimly-lit atmosphere, great cocktails and lavish buffet for many years. If you feel like sampling another version of the classic Milanese happy hour, move on to Lacerba, where cocktails are equally good, served in interiors with Futurist décor. For dinner, Noodle Bar in Viale Bligny has been making waves amongst Milan’s cognoscenti for its laid-back fusion cuisine in an atmosphere enhanced by its very small size, where you can choose from various types of noodles from Udon to home-made Ramen.

After dinner, have a beer at Mom, hanging out on the street with dozens of other like-minded hipsters. But to keep going until the early hours requires a little preparation. You have to have already visited the canal district venue Mag Café (Ripa di Porta Ticinese 43) where, if you are lucky and the right sort of person, you may be given the credentials to visit 1930, a dark, velvet-lined Prohibition-style speakeasy whose address is a well-kept secret, where you can linger over amazing cocktails until 4am.

Related: The best coffee shops in Milan

Best bars and restaurants

The Porta Romana district offers something for everyone, from quality kiosks to traditional Milanese, cool seafood and adventurous ethnic, with a chic but affordable vibe in tune with the proximity of Bocconi university.

Giannasi 1967: A legend in Milanese street food, superb roast chicken accompanied by chips, vegetables, polenta and other fried specialities such as croquettes and ‘olive ascolane.’ It’s a kiosk in the middle of a busy crossroads, buy, take away, find a bench or a park, and enjoy.


© Giannasi 1967

Osteria dell’Acquabella: This place is perfect if you like the idea of sampling traditional Milanese cuisine in a family atmosphere in which the owners speak the local dialect. One of the best ‘cotolette alla milanese’ in town.

J’S Hiro: A small Japanese restaurant with the typically simple décor, offering excellent sushi, tempura, uramaki and so forth, with an exceptional miso ice-cream.


© J's Hiro

Gattullo: Founded in 1961, this classic caffè-pasticceria has remained a staple for Milanese pastry and coffee lovers alike. Gattullo’s take on il panettone, a rich cake studded with candied fruits, sultanas, and pine nuts, is ranked as one of the best in town.

Giacomo Bistrot: Beautifully-decorated interiors, Giacomo Bistrot provides a romantic setting midway between French bistrot and English club, with fine, down-to-earth Italian cuisine non-stop from lunchtime to 2am.


© Giacomo Bistrot

1 Terme di Milano
2 Osteria dell'Acquabella
3 Giannasi 1967
4 J's Hiro
5 Gattullo
6 Giacomo Bistrot

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