Milan’s history is closely linked to water, although it’s neither a seaside, river nor lakeside city. Today the Navigli district, renowned for its vibrant nightlife and old-world atmosphere, bears witness to its glorious past.
The Navigli area has a long history and was one of the city’s most important trading points, with a widespread network of canals perfected by Leonardo da Vinci. The two navigli – that is to say two ancient canals – give the area its name: the Naviglio Grande and the Naviglio Pavese, which are connected via the Darsena, an artificial basin that once was the old mercantile port of Milan.
This neighbourhood – now a prime local hotspot – still retains its former working-class bohemian atmosphere. The Naviglio Grande with its narrow streets – lined with pubs, restaurants, shops, historic buildings, museums and beautiful secret courtyards – is the most vibrant of the two Navigli.
The Darsena is the junction point of the two waterways, however its function changed after the Navigli were paved over. Today it is a reference point for the Milanese nightlife scene; the perfect place for a stroll, enlivened by street artists and musicians, or for an aperitivo or dinner with a panoramic view. To mark its opening, the historic Darsena communal market was also restored and has now become a compulsory stopover for food-loving locals and tourists.
To discover Milan’s waterways you can opt for a short tour that usually lasts one hour or indulge in a half or full-day experience, with lunch and dinner included. Also, thanks to a unique twinning with Venice, an authentic gondola ferries tourists along Milan’s canals.
Let tours guide you through this absolutely unique atmosphere!