As far as everybody knows Milan had no natural water arteries from the ancient times. Navigli canals were dug out in Middle Ages just to create cheap water ways so that deliver to the city row materials and divers goods. Since I’m from Saint Petersburg where we have more than three hundred rivers and canals I couldn’t be impressed with couple canals in Milan. Although something impalpable makes Navigli Canals very charming. I don’t know what, maybe their natural undermaintenance and decadence? Or maybe fabulous restaurants with excellent Italian cuisine on its banks? Or Maybe Church of Santa Maria built up out of the traditional red bricks? I don’t know. I only know that this place is very fascinating and restaurants there provide delicious food. So, Navigli have been firmly put to my must see list.
Originally a series of canals connected Milan to lakes and rivers all over Lombardy. The marble used for the construction of the Duomo was transported via these waterways from the Lago Maggiore near the Alps to the center of the city. Michelangelo was enlisted to help design a series of innovative sluices to overcome the differences in elevation.
Its claim to fame presently is being the venue for a huge flea market on the weekends, and there are a variety of eating opportunities all over the district.
It's hard to believe landlocked Milan was once an important port. But in the 12th century a series of canals were built to transport goods in and out of the city and surrounding areas of Lombardy before flowing into the rivers that eventually lead to the sea.
Many were filled in during the 1930s - 1960s as they became less and less significant as a method of transport, with roads built over the straight lines created by the canals (although ironically the canal system became important during WWII due to the destruction of the roads that were replacing them).
But a few remain, at least in part, with the Naviglio Grande to the south of the city and what is left of the Darsena (port) now a major attraction.
Lined with houses, old and new, old wash-houses with wooden beamed roofs and craftsmen’s workshops, galleries, bars and restaurants make it a very different destination for enjoying Milan. Every last Sunday of the month, the Darsena is the location of an extensive flea-market.
Running more or less parallel to the Grande is the Naviglio Pavese - smaller and more residential, a number of old moored barges are fitted out as bars and cafes.
A number of boat trips are also offered - from short one hour trips around the immediate vicinity to full day tours, travelling to outlying villages and farmland connected by the waterways.
Hopefully the water level will be a bit higher than when I visited, otherwise the canals will be pretty smelly in high summer!
This is the canal area, once a busy industrialised district and now (I'm told) a centre for nightlife, antique shops and so on and so forth.
I wandered down there to see what I could see. Restaurants and cafes and bars and antique/specialist shops, most certainly....and I can imagine that it would be a pleasant area to while away an hour or two in the evenings (as long as that water level rises!).
There are two canals: the Naviglio Grande (the first canal to be built) and the Naviglio Pavese (the last canal to be built). The architecture remains much as it was when the district was working-class, although many of the buildings have now become sought-after city ocations.
One little area..the Vicolo dei Lavanderie is supposedly as it once was...where washerwomen did their washing....but it is (I suspect) much 'tarted up', with an upmarket restaurant next door, flower troughs and so on and so forth. But interesting nevertheless (use your imagination!).
I think it's worth seeking out this district and going for a little exploration. My time was short, but I'm glad I went. Nearest Metro stop is Porta Genova on line 2.
Navigli is a district in the south of Milan where you can find many restaurants, bars, art galleries and antique shops. There is an antique market by the canals the last Sunday every month in September to June. It is a nice area to walk around in.
In Navigli you can see some of Milan’s old canals. Already in 1177 construction of the first canal, Naviglio Grande, was begun. More canals were built (they were five all together) after that and Navigli became a busy harbour district where goods were coming to Milan or shipped away on barges. Today there is no traffic on the canals and the big barges by the canal have been turned into restaurants and nightclubs.
Navigli is certainly one of the most picturesque of Milan. Here you find boutiques and ateliers of artist of Milan, cafes, restaurants and old moored barges fitted out as bars for meeting the typical atmosphere and the young Milan people. Here, every last Sunday of the month the colourful flea market takes place where second-hand goods and antiques may be found.
Navigli es por seguro uno de los sitios mas pintorescos de Milan. Aquí encontrarás tiendas, talleres de artistas, cafes, restaurantes y una amplia zona de bares donde la gente joven se reune para tomar algo sin duda es la zona de marcha de Milan. Cada último domingo de cada mes se celebra un mercadillo en el que se vende toda clase de articulos de segunda mano.
I have seen some nice photos at vt websites we went to find this lively zone with nice river view. We took the metro to P.Ta Genoa. River bed was dry. Full of trafic & noisy.We waslked down the river but could not find any bar to hung on. Anyway finally we found Via Casale which was full of students. This is a very nice bar where you can have aperitivi between 7 - 10. ( Aperativo means happy hour you get coctails like 7 - 8 Euros & eat as much as you can from the buffet.) Afterwards we took tram to Duomo & it was also very nice experience.So my suggesiton is do not try to look for other places by the river ( at least around porto Genova) Just directly to Via Casale if you are looking for a bar.
Navigli are the water canals used for transportation of goods in the old times. However, today they have become the area for restaurants and bars for gathering. Along Navigli, you can find many nice pizzeria, restaurants, bars and gelateria. The only disadvantage is the mosquitos breeding in stagnant pats of Navigli. Come with a mosquito repellent if you want to enjoy your evening.
Naviglio Grande is one of my favourite places in Milan. Linked with many restaurants, cafes and little streets, it has a great atmosphere. It's the right place both for an afternoon walk and the night spree.
Santa Maria delle Grazie al Naviglio, which I discovered by chance, wandering in Navigli area, is one of the most beautiful churches I have seen in Milan.
The church took the name from its position on the left shore of Naviglio Grande (the Grand channel).
The truth is that not so many tourists ever heard about the Navigli, one of the most picturesque areas in Milan.
The channels meet in the great basin of Darsena, the famous dockyard which today is no longer in use.
There are three main channels: Naviglio Grande who carries the waters of Lake Maggiore, Naviglio Interno who carries the waters of Como Lake and the third one is Naviglio Pavese who flows towards Ticino River and joins after a while Po River.
The canals known today as Navigli were devised almost a thousand years ago, and it was in 1179 when the first canal (the Naviglio Grande) was finished and opened, serving both as a communication means and as a source of water for the fields around Milan.
The ingenious hydraulic system that still governs the water flow today was devised by Leonardo da Vinci around the end of the 15th century.
Another all-time great, Napoleon, decided to build what today is called the Naviglio Pavese, which connected Milan to Pavia and allowed reaching the city from the sea via the river Po and Naviglio Pavese, from Lake Maggiore via the Ticino river and Naviglio Grande and from Lake Como via the Adda river and Naviglio della Martesana.
The commerce that the Navigli brought enriched the people who were living nearby, which explains the dozens of mansion houses that you still can see along those rivers.
In the late 18th and early 19th century a new city planning scheme involved the burying of all the existing Navigli network, which now run underground or have been filled with earth. With the exception of Naviglio Grande and Naviglio Pavese, and a few stretches of Naviglio della Martesana, you cannot see the Navigli network today.
The canals that are left today make a picturesque setting for Milan's buzziest nightlife spot. See my tip on that.
the only highlight of our trip to Milan was this spot:
it's a small canal, with two pedestrian precincts, full with restaurants, bars, seemed like a place where the locals go at night...
looks really lovely, with all the light mirroring on the water.
(lot of mosquitos though :)
Walk around the Navigli district.
Milan once had a detailed canal system that provided commerce to the city center. Now all that remains of these canals are the Naviglio grande and a side spur. Leonardo da Vinci who was very active in and around Milan designed some of the canal system. Today this district is filled with unique shops, restaurants, bars, and nightclubs. It is one of the great places to people watch and get a taste of Milan. In there is a huge antique market on the last Sunday of the month from Sept. to June. I wandered into the crowed streets one Sunday. It was crazy, it is hard to imagine such small streets packed so full of people and vendors.
this is my favourite part of Milan!!
You just have to go here when you visit the city!
Here you'll find the soul of Milan!
Old part with small and strange shops
A lot of artists and models are living here
And this is the place in Milan where you can find most bars (along with Brera)
Go shopping in Corso Porta Ticinese