A Walking Tour of the Navigli Canals to Discover Old Milan

A Walking Tour of the Navigli Canals to Discover Old Milan

Concealed courtyards, ancient dwellings, secret passages... Hidden gems on a rediscovery of the city’s old spirit

8 Apr 2021

Gruppo UNA

The Navigli area is well-known for its nightlife, but in actual fact it lives a double life. By day, it’s an ideal place for a relaxing walk or a sightseeing tour to discover “olden-day Milan”. Come with us to discover some of the wonders hidden behind the Navigli’s fashionable facades. 

Discover the Cortile degli Artisti

The Courtyard of Artists is a stunning gem tucked away in the courtyard of an old house festooned with railings overlooking the Naviglio Grande, in Via Alzaia Naviglio Grande, 4. There is one important rule to follow here: keep the noise down! Once past the entrance gate, you’re immersed in a courtyard filled with plants, paintings, artefacts and vintage photos.

Cortile degli Artisti


Visit the Centro dell’Incisione

Keep going along the Naviglio Grande to discover another hidden beauty. As soon as you walk through the eighteenth-century entrance to Palazzo Galloni, you are catapulted into the world of the Engraving Centre, a place to revel in the magic of long-lost craftsmanship, surrounded by beautiful climbing plants. Many meetings and seminars are held here, not just on the art of engraving but cultural topics; keep an eye out for their wine and food events too. For more info, visit: centrodellincisione.com.

Centro dell’Incisione


Browse the stalls at the Municipal Market

The historic covered Municipal Market along the Darsena is a must on any tour of the Navigli. They’ve got it all here, from fragrant exotic spices to traditional Milanese products, not to mention bakeries and butchers’ where you can buy great burgers to take away and munch by one of the canals. 

Municipal Market


Simple strolls, new wonders

The Naviglio Grande is lined by a number of old, devotional buildings that are historically important and well worth a look. For example, the famous Vicolo dei Lavandai or the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie al Naviglio was rebuilt in 1800 after being destroyed by fire. Work was suspended halfway through rebuilding the facade, and it has remained in that unfinished state ever since. The age-old “Pont de ferro” or “Ponte di pietra” was named after the poetess of the Navigli, Alda Merini, near Via Corsico. You may not know that this bridge, now plastered with padlocks left by lovers, was nicknamed by “Il Milanese imbruttito” as the “Fashion Bloggers Bridge”.

Ponte di pietra


Where to stay in Milan

It takes just two ticks to get from the Navigli to the centre of town: just walk down Via Torino and you’ll come to the Duomo. A stone’s throw away is Maison Milano | UNA Esperienze, a hotel with a privileged location in the heart of the city of Milan. But that’s not all… If you’re planning a stay in Milan this coming spring and are keen on an exclusive place to stay, don’t miss the opening of Milano Verticale | UNA Esperienze, a 4*S hotel of international character with roots in the tastes of modern Milanese tradition, an example of eclectic cross-pollination with contemporary excellence in fashion, design, creativity, Italian food and wine.

Maison Milano | UNA Esperienze