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An Introduction To Milan’s New Design-Led District

There’s a phrase in the Milanese dialect that says “Milan l’è un gran Milan”, Milan is the great Milan. This is a city that is already a major cultural hub, leading the way in art, fashion and gastronomy. It’s also the fastest growing city in the country.

Case in point: CityLife, an eight-years-in-the-making, two billion euro expansion to the northwest of the city. At just a 20 minute drive from Piazza del Duomo this is an imaginative, futuristic redevelopment at one of the city’s former industrial zones. 

Design-led in detail and working towards a greener Milan, CityLife has made its mark as the place to be, bringing in architectural greats such as Andrea Maffei and Zaha Hadid to build the future. 

Citizen Femme visited to uncover all the hottest spots at, well, the new hotspot of Milan.


STAY

NH Collection Milano CityLife

NH Collection CityLife Hotel opened its doors in June 2022, and is a beautiful past-meets-future experience. A conversion of the former Church of Cristo Re, the Neo-Renaissance style elements of the church are incorporated throughout the hotel’s structure and 185 rooms, creating an elegant and artistic ambiance. Spend time admiring the beautiful city skyline from the rooftop pool area or delve into delicious dishes of Mediterranean cuisine at Tailors Restaurant. Location is everything here, and the hotel sits among the shops and skyscrapers in the heart of the CityLife development, with Milan’s historical centre close by.

 

Meliá Milano

At Meliá, industrial functionality meets natural beauty, almost as if it is a mirror of Milan itself. This charming hotel is the place to book if you’re looking for a simple and sophisticated base. It’s the perfect place from which to explore – its prime location means you can stroll around the neighbourhood by foot – and with high skylights, chandeliers and an indoor garden, it’s the perfect spot to come back to after a long day of exploration, too. While here, we recommend taking the time to enjoy a traditional yet fine dining experience at the hotel’s Mami Restaurant, which has become a culinary favourite among tourists and locals.


EAT + DRINK

DaV (Da Vittorio)

Famous Bergamo restaurant chain, Da Vittorio, opened their first Milan location at CityLife earlier this year. Designed by the late Arata Isozaki alongside Andrea Maffei, this is an architect-backed sign of CityLife’s significance in the design world. Guests are greeted by a sleek and modern setting, walls are cladded in wooden-pyramid panelling and the restaurant reflects the elegance of the building it’s located within, Allianz Tower. Enjoy northern Italian dishes ranging from stuffed gnocchis to veal cooked in red wine from world-renowned chef, Paolo Pivato, alongside breathtaking views of the neighbourhood. We recommend the stuffed gnocchi with fontina cheese and black truffle.

 

Vivo

For al-fresco dining, look no further than Vivo Ristorante, in the CityLife Shopping District. Designed as a casual space – with open spaces and a wide terrace – this is an ideal spot for a quick lunch stop in between shopping sessions. The menu offers a wide range of seafood dishes, and has quickly gained its reputation thanks to the must-eat-more carpaccios and tartare. Try the Tuna Tartare with cured fish roe for something really special.

 

Feel Fusion

Italy has an amazing culinary tradition, but Milan is the city to visit for fun, fusion restaurants. Feel Fusion is one of them. Founded by the son of Chinese immigrants, this restaurant has established itself in Milan’s culinary panorama for its wide variety of sushi rolls, as well as for its sleek and refined interiors. From prawn tempuras to white fish sashimi, this is a must-visit if you’re a Japanese food afficionado. We’ll even bet you’ll find a new favourite on their extensive menu. With a large selection of options for vegetarians or those with dietary requirements, choosing what to order is made easy for all.


TO DO

Shop

Milan’s new CityLife shopping mecca – the biggest in Italy – is located in the impressive Zaha Hadid Tower. Here, both established brands and up-and-comers are racing to set up shop. For fashion, visit Marella for their perfectly cut pea coats or colourful mohair sweaters with a classic and timeless Italian elegance, or check out Scotch & Soda’s new Sakura-inspired collection. For beauty buys, L’Erbolario carries cosmetics, skincare products and perfumes derived from natural ingredients, all vegan and made in Italy. While here, take a break from all the retail therapy and stop by RED (Read, Eat, Dream), for a coffee, snack and perhaps a few pages of a good book.

 

Architecture

With its design-first approach, it’s no wonder that CityLife showcases the best in modern and sustainable architecture. Start by admiring the impressive Tre Torri, designed by famed architects Arata Isozaki, Daniel Libeskin and the late Zaha Hadid. Known as The Twisted, The Straight and The Curved, the towers are home to office spaces, a shopping district and a cinema. A symbol of an ever-growing Milan, these buildings not only showcase the best of contemporary design, but they have become the epicentre of the community for CityLife residents and visitors, their fusion of style and substance showcasing everything CityLife aims to embody.

The architectural touches that characterise the towers are also found throughout all the residential buildings here, too, many of them also designed by Hadid’s firm. With curved balconies, natural wood panels and overflowing greenery, these futuristic buildings are immersed in nature. BabyLife, Milan’s first “green” kindergarten with a spacious garden and eco-friendly structure, is also located nearby. Unsurprisingly, the CityLife residence buildings have become the most sought-out real estate in Milan, with Italian celebrities such as Chiara Ferragni purchasing properties and making the move to CityLife.

 

The Park

Beyond the architectural masterpieces, CityLife is known for turning an old industrial area into the second-largest public park in Milan. Largely car-free, with 5km of cycle paths you may be surprised to feel such fresh air just a couple of metro stations away from the busy city centre. Start your exploration of the park space at the south entrance to admire the historic Four Seasons Fountain before taking a walk along the Art Line, with more than 20 pieces of modern art lining the way. This destination has been dubbed the “Green Lungs” of Milan, and we can see why.

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