The name of the ancient area of Navigli (Navigli) is translated from Italian as "channels", which is not surprising, for for several centuries Milan, which had no sea borders, was a navigable, port city, and its appearance was very reminiscent of Venice.
At the beginning of the XII century, with the growth of economic development, there was a need to create a network of waterways. Crossing the main center of Lombardy, they connected it with the rivers Ticino, Adda and Po (Po), thus providing access to the lakes Lago Maggiore and Lago di Como, as well as providing access to the Adriatic Sea.
The Grand Canal (Naviglio Grande) appeared first in 1178, and had a length of more than 50 kilometers. It was used for the delivery of snow-white marble, from which the famous Duomo Cathedral (Duomo di Milano) was built.
According to historians, the system of artificial watercourses was developed on the basis of drawings by Leonardo da Vinci himself. By 1888, the city had about 124 canals, while they stretched 150 kilometers.
Over time, the situation has changed: road transport has become an increasingly important role. Another problem also appeared: the release of sewage into the water led to the spread of serious diseases, in particular the plague. Milan periodically covered outbreaks of epidemics. In the 19th century, it was decided to fill up most of the canals, and to equip a system of water and sewer pipes underground. The difficult work dragged on for several decades and was completed in 1979. Only three artificial watercourses connected to the pool of the old river port of Darsena have survived to our days:
- Canal Martesana (Naviglio Martesana), located in the north-east of the city;
- Grand Canal;
- Pavian Canal (Naviglio Pavese).
The last two are located in the southwestern part of Milan from the Porta Ticinese Gate and form a cozy and unforgettable area of Navigli. In 1930, the Bolshoi and Paviysk glows underwent restoration, they were cleaned and deepened, although at present their water level has dropped significantly.
Today, the Navigli area is considered the most picturesque and romantic place in the city. Everything here is saturated with the spirit of freedom and creativity, and at night life is in full swing. Many indigenous people come here on weekends, especially young people and representatives of bohemia.
For tourists, the best time to visit is the summer months, when special sightseeing trams are launched through the canals, allowing you to see Milan from a completely different perspective.
With its nightlife and choice of restaurants, Navigli reminds me of my favorite Trastevere in Rome. If you want to see the feel of the history of Milan, as well as good food, you are here.
What to see
Guests of the city who find themselves in the Navigli area have the opportunity to have a very exciting time. Some of the most interesting and popular attractions include:
- Pradek Lane (vicolo dei Lavandai);
- Church of San Cristoforo (chiesa di San Cristoforo sul Naviglio);
- Doc Darsen;
- Basilica of Sant'Eustorgio (basilica di Sant'Eustorgio);
- Flea (mercato del Sabato) and antique (mercatone dell'Antiquariato) markets.
Lane Prachek - a nice place that retained the atmosphere of bygone years.
It was here, among small houses with characteristic wooden shutters, that until the middle of the last century, clothes were washed in special stone gutters under canopies with a tiled roof. It is noteworthy that women were not allowed to do this physically hard work. The appearance of the old laundries has remained untouched by time. In the building, where once a pharmacy was located and soap was sold, now there is a stylized restaurant. In house number 6 of Prachek Lane you can see the prototype of the first washing machine, a huge centrifuge made back in 1900.
Church of San Cristoforo
The Church of San Cristoforo (San Cristoforo sul Naviglio) is an interesting architectural monument, fragments of which date back to the 7th century.
The temple was repeatedly rebuilt and reconstructed until the mid-14th century, and ultimately acquired the appearance of a typical Gothic church, built according to the canons of the Lombard school. The facade is decorated with rich terracotta ceramics with inserts of white marble. Inside are statues of the saint in whose honor the church was built, and ancient frescoes painted in the XIV-XVI centuries.
The promenade of the former commercial port of Darsena, which once played an important strategic role for Lombardy, is a favorite place for recreation and entertainment for both Milanese and city guests.
In 2015, a global reconstruction was carried out here, transforming the water area and coastal zones. People come here to take a walk, enjoy the magnificent views and enjoy the true spirit of Italy.
Basilica of Sant'Eustorgio
The Basilica of Sant'Eustorgio (Basilica di Sant'Eustorgio), so named in honor of the Bishop of Eustorgius of Milan, was founded in the IV century, and is considered the oldest temple in the city.
By giving up to the XII century, the relics of three biblical Magi were stored here, as evidenced by the star adorning the 80-meter bell tower. The church has not been preserved in its original form, as it was rebuilt several times over a long history. The building of the church acquired its present look, corresponding to the Romanesque style of architecture in the 11th century. Later, chapels were completed on the right side. The current facade of the church is the result of reconstruction carried out in the 19th century.
For connoisseurs of antiquity it will be especially exciting to visit the huge antique market, which takes place along the Grand Canal every last Sunday of the month.
A series of shops extends for almost 2 kilometers. Here you can find objects of different eras: antique jewelry, furniture, paintings, books, coins, figurines, dishes, clothes, shoes of famous brands and other vintage items. Collectors, designers and fashion designers from around the world come here as if on a hunt. A flea market is open every Saturday. This is where it is worth acquiring interesting souvenirs reminiscent of hospitable Italy.
How to get there
Finding the Navigli area in Milan is not difficult, because it is located in the historical center of the city. You can get there by tram:
- No. 2 (stop Porta Genova);
- No. 3 (stop Ticinese 24 Maggio);
- No. 9 (stop Gorizia Vigevano).
An alternative is the metro, you need to select the green line, go to the Porta Genova station, then go out onto Via Casale, which will lead to the Grand Canal. It is important to remember that the area of Navigli belongs to the pedestrian zone, and it is forbidden to travel by private car here.