A stroll along Milan’s Navigli will most definitely take you back in time, magically conjuring up an era boasting a unique atmospheric charm which you will find hard to resist.
The Navigli are a widespread network of canals, whose history is linked to the genius of Leonardo da Vinci. Among the most characteristic, worthy of particular note is the Naviglio Grande, with its intriguing meld of styles and architectural expressions. One of the most vibrant districts in the city, it boasts small artisan workshops and painters’ studios, hundreds of trendy venues for either an aperitivo or an after-dinner drink. With the arrival of the warm weather, the renowned “movida Milanese” takes on a special vibe and the Navigli become a compulsory stopover for the ritualistic Milanese “Happy Hour, a great way of relaxing after a hard day’s work or a shopping spree.
The area is also famed for its numerous traditional “osterie” (bistrots) where, among several of the city’s cosiest, most intimate atmospheres, customers can savour all the flavours of typical Milanese cuisine including saffron-flavoured risotto with “ossibuco” or scrumptious Milanese breaded cutlets.
However, the Navigli also serve as the perfect backdrop to exhibitions and events including Cimento Invernale, a historic swimming race where thousands of fearless swimmers brave the icy waters near the San Cristoforo Church, theMercatino dell’Antiquariato (held on the last Sunday of each month) or the Fiera di Sinigaglia, a traditional appointment featuring a display of bric a brac and vintage clothing (every Saturday).Other interesting events include NavigaMI, a small yacht and sailboat fair (from 4 to 6 May); Fiori sul Naviglio, a spring happening boasting a delightful display of spring scents and colours, featuring a wide array of stalls selling mouth watering treats plus the works of artists and artisans (15 April) or Arte sul Naviglio Grande, two days dedicated to paintings by more than 200 exhibitors (19 and 20 May).
Finally, top of your “to-do” list is a boat tour of the Navigli. Boating options include short or long tours, operating from mid-April to the end of September (for information and reservations: T: 02 92273118 – www.naviglilombardi.it).
Several spring glimpses of the Navigli. From the top: the Boat Tour, the Mercatino dell’Antiquariato, the Fiori sul Naviglio happening and a typical painting atelier.