Discover the Navigli District of Milan, a Milan must-see for both locals and tourist. With its interesting history, it has hidden areas that even the locals don’t know about! Here is a little peek behind the looking glass of what the canals have to offer.
The Navigli district is one of the most famous sights in Milan because of its pretty streets and hipster bars that transform in the evening into a bubbly and vibrant area full of people drinking, eating and chatting. But, beyond that image we all know and see, the Navigli holds many more secrets and interesting places.
Like the shimmering surface of the Navigli reflecting the facade of the houses, under the surface of the water, there is much more than meets the eye.
Behind all the massive doors, hiding away are some pretty little courtyards! A particular favourite is the courtyard of Galloni Palace. Galloni palace, with its abandoned, decadent facade, it is a reminder of another time (I guess, isn’t all of Italy?). This building once belonged to a wealthy family and if you step through to the courtyard, you will be transported into another world! Step into the fairytale-like garden and admire the building surrounding you, as well as the little outdoor theatre that is there.
The Alda Merini Space, along with Via Magolfa are two spots you can’t miss! Alda Merini was a famous Italian poet who lived in Navigli district. Here in this space is part bookshop, part cafe, and contains pieces that actually once belonged to the poet. Now this place is called the ‘District of the Arts’ and has a mural of Alda Merini. The idea of this wall to an important part of the redevelopment of the area, which was once quite a poor area, to have art that is open and accessible to everyone. All over the wall are fantastic artworks with sayings written on them, catching your eye and talking to you in a quick and witty conversation.
The Santa Maria delle Grazie church on the canal is a quiet haven off the busy Navigli district. Milan has many church but none quite like this! Inside the church, your eyes will instantly be drawn to the stain glass windows that literally radiant light and colour. The style of these windows feels very modern and is surprisingly refreshing to see in the otherwise beautiful but slightly ‘dusty’ church.
If you’re feeling a little unsure where to start, we have our Navigli tour quiz which allows you discover all the best areas while telling you the stories of each are along the way - finishing with a classic Apertivo!
Another must-see in the Navigli District Milan is the lesser famous of the two, the Naviglio Pavese is just a short walk away and here you can find the bridge over the Naviglio Pavese which has some rather fun artworks that were part of the ‘BRIDGE FESTIVAL’, an event that happened over 2 days were famous street artists decorated parts of the city, including this bridge. As the artist and philosopher Atomo Tinelli said "a grey bridge is always a grey bridge. Better to have a colourful bridge that inspires fantasy and give a little joy!".