A life on water’s surface

A city tour: walking around Milan Navigli district


If Milan Navigli district had a voice it would be a laugh, if it were a colour it would be the blue of the night, if it had a scent, it would be one of great memories of the past.


For those of you who are not familiar with Milan Navigli, it is the soul of Milan’s nightlife. When night falls, young and old flock here from every part of the city – and beyond – to chat and share their adventures (or misadventures) to each other and to relax mind and spirit in the presence of sumptuous appetizers and fashionable cocktails.


Once you arrive at the Porta Genova train station, you will be captured by the particular shop windows along Via Vigevano. The main theme in this area is truly and simply vintage, which can be encapsulated through multi-coloured dresses or rustic and informally furnished restaurants.


You can spend a lot of time walking along the Darsena, the historic port in the heart of the city. In the past this port, which branches off into the Naviglio Grande and Naviglio Pavese, was a central hub of activities. This area has currently been earmarked for an important reclamation and enhancement project, in view of the forthcoming Expo 2015.


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Pizza or a Michelin star restaurant?

Restaurants are easy to find and you can discover an array of different food specialties, including Indian, Michelin rated (such as the famous Sadler, one of Milan’s historic restaurants, offering a menu suiting all palates and wallets), vegan/vegetarian spots – which would even tempt the most hardcore meat lovers- home-made scialatelli and the quinoa deep-fried pan, courtesy of the ‘Ghea’ chef.


As you can see the area offers culinary delights for all tastes and needs, and you can also find the most recent and lesser-known sushi-patisserie shops, where you can enjoy a croissant at 8am or at night for a formal dinner prepared by an authentic Japanese chef.


The story of a city hungry for life

The Naviglio Grande was once a navigable canal stretching 50km and was inaugurated in 1179. It was gradually extended using locks designed by Leonardo da Vinci. It was Francesco Sforza who decided to design and project the largest extension, which increased the canal length to 90km and Leonardo was given the task to design the final touches to the renowned Martesana canal.


The French invasion, led by Napoleon, culminated in the construction of the Naviglio Pavese, in order to satisfy the hunger for glory of Milan’s inhabitants – the sprawling Milan extended its reaches to the River Po and even the ocean, through the Naviglio Palese, right up to Lake Maggiore (via Ticino and Naviglio Grande) and Lake Como, navigating through the Naviglio della Martesana and the River Adda.


All the charm of past times

Despite their age the Navigli remain the city’s best-loved attraction where artists, models and young people looking for their moment of fame meet together, against the background of courtyards hosting houses with balustrades, old mills and artisan workshops. Here you can still hear the resounding sound of Old Milan.


Along the banks of the Navigli, Milan’s nightlife comes alive every evening. You can find so many things to do, such as parties on moored boats, English-style pubs, exclusive restaurants or even less discreet ones.


Right in this area, the two faces of the city show themselves – the one with craft shops, picturesque corners and well-lit churches and the other where the Navigli springs to life with lights and aromas.


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