Five Fun Facts about the Navigli: Canals in Milan

Venice is not the only place to go when it comes to canals in Italy. The Naviglio Grande canals and Naviglio Pavese canals are also popular in Milan’s Naviglio neighborhood. The Navigli neighborhood is a favorite area in Milan, thanks to its many bars and boutiques. It is also one of Milan’s most historic neighborhoods. The waterways that connect Milan with the nearby lakes were built in 1179.

These are five facts about Milan’s canals (and the Navigli area).

The Duomo was responsible for the construction of Milan’s canals.

Milan’s canals have a lot more to offer than beauty. They are functional and were built to transport goods from nearby lakes. One of the most important deliveries is? Precious marble from Candoglia was used to build Milan’s cathedral, The Duomo.

Although canals are no more used for shipping, you might see tour boats passing by on sightseeing tours.

Da Vinci may have been the architect behind the canals

Leonardo Da Vinci, a Renaissance genius, was summoned to Milan by Ludovico Il Moro, Duke de Milan in 1482 to bring his ideas and talents to the city. Although the Last Supper is one of the most well-known contributions of Da Vinci to Milan, legend has it that he also planned the renovations of Milan’s canals. In 1886, a boat was seen on Milan’s canal.

Milan was once Venice-like thanks to its canals

This neighborhood was once connected by five canals. Here, you can still see some of the castles and country homes that were built by local residents. The Milanese used boats to travel from one place to the next. Historical records show that this area of the city was once very similar to Venice.

The Navigli district is a haven for art lovers

Do you love art? You should visit the galleries that line the canals. There will be signs pointing to the courtyards displaying local artists’ work. The galleries are not only fun to look at, but they also make great souvenirs to take home.

You’ll also find galleries and design showrooms.

You’ll feel as if you’ve left Milan to go to the canals.

Do you want to escape the city? You can escape the city by heading off-road along the Naviglio Dilla Martesana (also known as Naviglio Piccolo or “small canal”) towards Milan’s suburbs. It’s possible to take a scenic walk or bike ride on the tree-lined paths.

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