The Tortona district in Milan is situated between Via Tortona, Navigli, and the metro station of Porto Genova, but its core lies on Via Tortona, Via Savona, and Via Salaria. About 10 years ago, this area was rather overlooked, but now more artists and creative entrepreneurs are emerging in the district, making it Milan's trendiest neighborhood. The district is bustling and super fashionable. New bars and restaurants pop up on every corner, and clientele is abundant, especially during weekdays due to the presence of Giorgio Armani's headquarters and, of course, the campus of Bocconi University, Italy's renowned business school. During Fashion Week in April, it's 'the place to be and be seen'.
Patchwork of Innovation and Creative Talent
The neighborhood really developed with the arrival of young fashion brands and photo studios looking for affordable spaces. This was followed by design studios and ateliers. However, the identity of Zona Tortona is certainly owed to the efforts of pioneers and local entrepreneurs. By 2021, it had long outgrown just being associated with Fashion Week. During Design Week, the area is teeming with events, yet throughout the year, one can find permanent exhibitions, particularly in showrooms of big famous Italian brands like Moncler, Forte Forte, Fendi, B&B Italia, and Flos. The district is very dynamic; for instance, I happened to pass by a new Italian restaurant, Bocado, on Via Tortona, on its opening day.
Besides big brands, there's also room for smaller initiatives in exhibition spaces like OPIFICIO 31 or the studios of BASE with pop-up stores, art exhibitions, and recording studios. And of course, there's the spectacular Museum of Culture MUDEC. This architectural patchwork of former factories, warehouses, and workshops, small local parks, and traditional case de ringhiera (traditional worker's houses characterized by iron railings) are now home to boutique hotels, fashion houses, and galleries. The price per square meter has skyrocketed, making pioneers in the area quite wealthy in a short span of time.
Unlike the neighboring district of Navigli, Tortona was isolated for a long time. Until the late 1960s, it depended on heavy industry. This part of Milan suffered from an economic downturn, warehouses and factories were abandoned, and due to delays in redevelopment plans, the district stagnated until 2015 with the inauguration of the new cultural museum, MUDEC (Museo delle Culture di Milano), beautifully designed by architect David Chipperfield.
Some of my favorite spots in Zona Tortona include the Green Fingers Market at Via Savona 21, a haven for lovers of greenery and vintage. The plant store Green Fingers Market was conceived by the Japanese plant artist Satoshi Kawamoto, who also has stores in New York and Tokyo. It's a creative hub, more boutique than nursery, with unique Japanese vintage clothing and an intriguing collaboration with the antique French brand Mont St Michel.
DMAG outlet is a great spot for designer bargains located in an old factory hall next to Armani Silos on Via Tortona. Bottegatre, at Via Tortona 12, is a quaint shop with quirky creations ranging from clogs to jewelry. If you're searching for the best ice cream parlor in Milan, head to Augusto at Viale Coni Zugna 54. Try the signature Salted Pistachio and Caramel or the rich dark chocolate ice cream made from the finest cocoa beans and spring water. If you're in the mood for something more exotic, order some of the delightful sweets from the Japanese Bakery, Hiromi Cake, at Viale Coni Zugna number 5.
MUDEC Museum of Culture
In 1990, the city of Milan took the initiative to purchase the old Ansaldo factory in Porta Genova and repurpose it for the city of Milan's museum and cultural affairs, alongside studios and workshops. The permanent exhibition focuses on entomology and world cultures, featuring contemporary themes showcased through visual, performance, and sound arts, design, and costumes. It boasts more than 7,000 pieces of art, textiles, and musical instruments from around the world.
The museum is also child-friendly. Besides the permanent exhibit, there are usually two rotating exhibitions. During my visit, there was an exhibition on DISNEY "The Art of Timeless Storytelling" and a photo exhibition of Tina Modotti, an influential Italian photographer, activist, and actress titled "Women, Mexico, and Freedom".MUDEC - Via Tortona, 56, 20144 Milano Phone. >02 54917 Website: https://www.mudec.it
Armani Silos was originally constructed in 1950 on the grounds of Nestlé's former headquarters. Giorgio Armani named it Silos (storage tank) "because it stored grain, essential for life. To me, clothes, like food, are a part of life." This was his statement during the inauguration on April 30, 2015, to celebrate 40 years of Armani creativity, with an impressive 4500 m² of floor space. It houses roughly 600 garments and 200 accessories from the 1980s to the present, including the attire worn by Richard Gere in the 1980 movie American Gigolo. The grand Silos space underscores the designer's philosophy and creativity: the austere and monumental architecture spans four levels around a vast central void reminiscent of a beehive. The color black, ever-present in the Maestro's creations, is ubiquitous, from floors to ceilings and decorative details. Yet, thanks to the large, unadorned glass facade of the foyer facing Via Bergognone, natural light prevails.
The museum has been open since May 5, 2021, on Wednesdays and Sundays from 11:00 AM to 7:00 PM, and Thursdays to Saturdays from 11:00 AM to 9:00 PM. Reservations are highly recommended.ARMANI/SILOS - Via Bergognone, 40, 20144 Milano - Phone.02 9163 0010
BASE is located around the corner from Armani Silos, multifunctional in a repurposed old factory. It has become a hub for various social and cultural projects. Spanning an impressive 12,000 square meters, you'll find a bit of everything, housed across multiple levels of this versatile space. CasaBase offers accommodation for visitors and artists. On the ground floor, behind the quaint post office, there's a cozy bistro where one can always enjoy good food (both indoors and outdoors) at very reasonable prices. Space is also dedicated to music with the MusicROOMS created by Music Innovation Hub, a gathering spot for professionals in music production. Besides, BASE Milan also provides exhibition spaces for displays, workshops, photo shoots, and concerts.BASE - Via Bergognone, 34 Milano
Where to Eat
A popular restaurant in a bright space with lots of windows and a beautiful garden where you can obviously dine 'al fresco'.Al Fresco - Via Savona 50, Milan - Phone: +39 02 49533630 Website: https://www.alfrescomilano.it
Of course, you can eat pizza anywhere, but this place on Via Bergognone is one of the best pizzerias in Italy. The restaurant is part of a three-part chain in Milan.Coccoiuto - Via Bergognone, 24 Milan Phone: 02 36528327 Website: https://www.cocciuto.com/
A Japanese fusion restaurant on Via Andrea Solari with an elegant décor in green and gold tones. Wide variety of dishes, good quality, and beautiful presentation. Try the Miso soup!YIFAN - Via Andrea Solari, 23 Milan Phone: +39 02 8316445 Website: https://www.yifanmilano.it
Popular street food restaurant that has franchised in the past year, so it has various locations in Italy like Trani and Polignano a Mare, but also in Naples, Rome, and Turin. There are a few tables on the street, but it's more for a quick bite rather than an extended dining experience. Delicious fresh fish dishes like fritto-misto, carpaccio, and even fresh oysters. Open every day from noon to midnight.Pescaria Via Andrea Solari, 12 Milan - Phone: +39 02 3668 5383 Website: https://www.pescaria.it
The Botanical Club
Located on Via Tortona between two office buildings, this elegant restaurant and microdistillery has a large terrace. A wide variety of dishes from all corners of the world, fitting for a restaurant right across from MUDEC. Also great for a cocktail.The Botanical Club, Via Tortona 33, Milan Phone: +39 02 423 2890 Website: https://www.botanicalclub.com
The best Martini is now at Carico - one of the top hot bars currently in Milan. The concept is realized by Domenico "Dom" Carella. They serve bistro-like dishes, but hidden in the back in a black tent is the Martini Room. You pay here not per cocktail but per minute (30,60,90 minutes), and you can drink as many Martinis as you can handle!Carico - Via Savona, 1, 20144 Milano MI - Open from 19:00 - Website: https://www.carico.io/
God Save The Food
Trendy café for fresh juices and hearty brunches.God Save The Food, Via Tortona 34, Milan, Phone: +39 02 8942 3806 Website: http://www.godsavethefood.it
Maido is located on Via Savona and is inspired by Japanese street food tradition. Okonomiyaki (Japanese savory pancakes) and creative noodle dishes, served pocket-sized.Maido, Via Savona 15, Milan, Italy, Phone: +39 02 3943 4027 Website: https://www.maido-milano.it
Where to Stay in Zona Tortona?
Savona 18 Suites
This stylish hotel is located on Via Savona, a street full of dining options, and is designed by Aldo Cibic. Minimalistic rooms with wooden ceilings and Nespresso machines; some have antiques like gramophones, typewriters, or radios. In addition to a large courtyard, there's a cute café/bar where you can peacefully work outside on the terrace or enjoy a continental breakfast.Savona 18 - Via Savona, 18 Phone: 02 255 5201 Website: https://www.savona18suites.it - Prices and reservations?
Hotel NHOW Milano
On Via Tortona, this hotel is a design paradise. Formerly a TV studio, now a concept hotel with changing themes such as art, fashion, and music. Spacious rooms, interesting views over the Milanese industrial heritage, and a rooftop bar overlooking the city.Hotel NHOW - Via Tortona 35, Milan, Italy, Phone: +39 02 489 8861 Website: https://www.nhow-hotels.com/
Hotel Magna Pars Suites
Not directly on Via Tortona but on Via Vincenzo Forcella; this is a 'luxury' hotel. Housed in a former perfume factory, it has 39 rooms and suites, all overlooking the courtyard garden. A gym, a rooftop terrace, and a restaurant: Da Noi In.Hotel Magna Pars - Via Vincenzo Forcella, 6, 20144 Milan, Italy, Phone: +39 02 833 8371 Website: https://www.magnapars-suitesmilano.it/
B&B The Yard Suite & Dependance
A bit of an eccentric boutique hotel with 24 different rooms and 2 buildings. Each room is unique and named after sports themes. There's a nice garden, and they serve an organic breakfast.B&B The Yard Suite - Via Pio IV, 2, 20123 Milan, Italy, Phone: +39 02 8941 5901 Website: https://www.theyardmilano.com/