Quartiere Isola - Isola District
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Quartiere Isola - Isola District

General information

Isola (also known as Isola Garibaldi) is a working-class area built between 1880 and the beginning of 1990; it lies north of the city centre outside the ancient Porta Garibaldi which it is separated from by the homonymous station.

The name probably derives from some areas that bordered the old farmhouses in the area called "islands" but it also derives from its isolated position within the urban context, slightly removed from the rest of the city.

In the years following the Second World War, and especially since the '80s, the area has undergone many changes that have enabled it to develop a buzzing nightlife scene (Via Borsieri is especially well known) thanks to the presence of numerous prestigious clubs, cultural associations and meeting places, however, it still manages to retain its artisan working-class identity.

Nowadays, it has a differentiated socio-economic structure: it has a high percentage of offices, a vibrant restaurant and nightlife scene, a significant number of quality artisan enterprises and cultural associations, plus, a mixed residential urban fabric comprising different ethnic and social components.

The neighborhood is home to approximately 21,000 inhabitants (in its broadest representation) and has one of the highest densities per square kilometre in Milan.

From a town planning-architectural point of view the district contains some of the most remarkable examples of rationalism in Milan (casa Ghiringhelli - 1933, casa Comolli Rustici 1935 and the house in via Perasto - 1934) all constructed by Terragni and Lingeri and, since early 2000, a major redevelopment has been implemented that has created prestigious buildings like the headquarters of the Regional Authorities; many other high-rise office blocks are also in the completion phase.

The new expansion of the Garibaldi – Repubblica area including a vast scheme of green spaces and pedestrian areas means that the Isola area has now finally integrated with the rest of the city.

Anecdotes and curiosities

Isola, a typical working-class district in Milan, was intensely involved in the partisan resistance. On April 25th, 1972 a war memorial was inaugurated in Via Sassetti in commemoration of local resistance fighters who lost their lives; at the request of the inhabitants the memorial was successively transferred to the more central piazza Segrino in December 2009.

In piazzale Lagosta stands one of the most elegant examples of public housing in the city (1924-25): in the courtyard, on the site of the ancient Mojazza cemetery, a gravestone commemorates the small tomb, near a communal grave, in which the poet Giuseppe Parini was buried.


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