The beautiful, fascinating Italian city of Milan has much more to offer than its elegant, high-end boutiques and luxury shopping. So once you’ve had your fill of designer clothing and refined retail, discover Milan’s bustling, beating heart in the historic Navigli district with its hip bars, excellent restaurants, and authentic Milanese atmosphere.
Dating back to around 1100AD, the Navigli district is one of the oldest in the city. It was the place where the early settlers of this landlocked town decided to build a network of canals to link it with the lakes and countries to the north. Carrying everything from food and goods to the marble used to build the city’s impressive Duomo, the canals became a major Milan transfer system for the early Milanese.
Legend has it that when the city was modernized in the Renaissance, Leonardo da Vinci was asked to add his expertise to the team granted the task to renovate the impressive canal network. The result was the five beautiful canals which run through the town’s south-western area, known as Navigli (which comes from the Latin ‘to navigate’ and today means simply ‘canal’).
What to Do in Navigli
Whether you come at sunset to see the sun sink below the bridges of the Naviglio Grande and Naviglio Pavese, or simply for an aperitivo in one of the many bars and restaurants which line the canals, you’ll love the laid back Milanese atmosphere here.
Unlike anywhere else in the city, this part of Milan is where the locals come to relax and socialize and, as a result, there is a sense of fun here which can be missing in the refined elegance of the shopping districts.
In recent years the area has become somewhat of a mecca for those searching for antiques, vintage clothing, and accessories so if you love to shop for something pre-loved, this is definitely the place to go.
If you’re lucky, your trip may even coincide with the famous vintage market which is held along the banks of the canal on the last Sunday of every month, when hundreds of store holders sell a range of fascinating old Italian items.
How to Get to Navigli
It may feel like a different city, but Navigli is actually very easy to get to from tourist sites like the Duomo. By foot, walk down the Via Torino to the Colonne di San Lorenzo, from where it is a five-minute walk down the Corso di Porta Ticinese. By Metro, the closest stop is Porta Genova and a number of trams also stop in the area.
Getting to Milan
With regular flights to Milan from the UK, getting here couldn’t be easier. Arrange for a private Shuttle Direct Milan transfer from the airport and a driver will meet you when you land and drive you to your accommodation in the city.
With a private Milan transfer from Shuttle Direct, you can agree on the price in advance and relax knowing that you’ll be met by a local, English-speaking driver when you land, thereby avoiding the stress of arranging a taxi at the airport.