Navigli district Milan: the charming canals of Milano

navigli district milan

navigli district milan

The Navigli district of Milan is one of the most famous areas of Milano which is really worth visiting, they are charming and base of one of the main area in the Milan – nightlife (Aperitivos and Bars)

The Navigli district Milan, the history

The Navigli are a system of canals and waterways whose construction lasted 7 centuries (from XII to XIX century) that connected the lake Maggiore, the lake Como, the Ticino river and the Po river and also connecting Milan with Switzerland, North Eastern and Western Europe and to the sea and irrigate and productive huge areas.

The Navigli canals that are part of the system of canals inside the city of Milan are:

  • Naviglio Grande
  • Naviglio Pavese
  • Naviglio Martesana
  • Naviglio di Paderno
  • Naviglio di Bereguardo

In just 35 years had been built 90 km of waterways and the first canal was realised in the XII century when began the construction of the Naviglio Grande with a system of dams invented by Leonardo Da Vinci in the XV century. ( you can still see Leonardo’s Dam along Naviglio Pavese)

Then, in 1457, Francesco Sforza, Lord of Milano, ordered the realization of another Naviglio, the Naviglio della Martesana, and in 1482 Ludovico il Moro commissioned Leonardo Da Vinci to plan a system to connect Lake Como to Milan and you can find drafts at the Museum of Navigli.

The Famous Duomo di Milano has been build with the Marple coming via these canals

In 1805 Napoleon ordered to complete the Naviglio Pavese used also for trasportation of the Candoglia marble for the construction of the Duomo Cathedral.

Then in the second half of the XIX century trains and railways become the first means of transport and the Navigli canals were less used and finally abandoned when cars appeared and only used by industries that polluted waters.

Many section in the inner city has been covered and for many years there where little to see.

When Milanese refer to Navigli they usally speak about the Naviglio Pavese and Naviglio Grande, in the south where the Movida lies and you can find also lot of restaurants in the navigli district of Milan.

Naviglio Martesana is simply known as “La Martesana” amd the other two are actually far from city Center

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Naviglio Martesana

Totally forgotten for years in the 90s and 2000 it got heavy re-working and thus now you can bike and walk along it. The ride with the bike is wonderful (long, safe and in the green) and in the weekend it s a typical Family trip.

See our article about Martesana

The Navigli district of Milan nowadays

Now the Navigli area is a very popular place for Milanese citizens and one of the best moments to go there is at sunset that is when you can find a very romantic atmosphere with the sun reflecting in the water of the canals

What to see in Navigli

There are many plan to make it a no traffic zone all year long  (in summer time it already is) so it’s nice to walk. In particular we suggest visiting the Vicolo Lavandai, a beautiful corner where washerwomen used to wash clothes.

Best restaurants in Navigli

The Navigli are also a wonderful place where to take a stroll during the day and we suggest you having lunch in one of the many restaurants such as Restaurant El Brellìn in Alzaia Naviglio Grande.

At night Navigli becomes a buzzy area with a great movida thanks to all its bars and restaurants where young people and not only use to gather.
We suggest you the Ringhiera bar in Ripa di Porta Ticinese, 5 where you can make a great aperitivo thanks to a rich buffet a good cocktails or Spazio Movida in Via Ascanio Sforza, 41.

Navigli Milan map

Mappa-Navigli

How to reach Navigli from Duomo

You can reach Navigli by foot from Duomo taking Via Torino and then turn left, then you will find the famous “colonne di San Lorenzo” another buzzy area which is usually very crowded at night (around 15 mins in a shopping street), then continue taking Corso di Porta Ticinese, then cross the street and turn right and you will reach the wonderful Navigli (it s 5-10 more minutes, but the border between Navigli and Ticinese / colonne di San lorenzo is basically none.

How to reach Navigli by Metro

You can also reach Navigli with public transport taking the green line (Metro 2)  of the underground (stop Porta Genova). this is also the stop for the “Via Tortona / Salone del Mobile”

THANKS TO MILANOCARD, GET A FREE INVITE FOR NAVIGLI BOAT TOUR. CLICK HERE >

DON’T LOSE YOUR TIME, FEW SEATS ARE AVAILABLE FOR FREE

How to reach Navigli By Tram & Bus

(please always ask – there are a lot of road work due to Expo and some linen umber may change its path)

  • The 9 and the 29 are circle lines and Stops by Navigli
  • So are the number 3 and 2
  • Bus 59
  • Many other tram / busses are within walk distance

Come to Milan and enjoy the wonderful Navigli!

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