Darsena and Navigli

The Navigli are two fresh-water canals that enter the city from the south and southwest: the Naviglio Grande and the Naviglio Pavese, which flow into the Darsena basin near the Porta Ticinese gate. Navigli and Colonne di San Lorenzo is where the Milanese go when they want to spend a night out, around the beautifully renovated Darsena, Milano’s ancient river port.

Milano means old trams from the early 1920s, but there’s also orange jumbos from the 1970s and the futuristic Sirio line from the 2000s.

The start of Via Torino near Duomo is the perfect setting to catch a tram. Flows of pedestrians and popular shops, and three lines that stop there in one of the busiest intersections in the city center. 

Via Torino is a meandering street full of shops targeting young consumers and espresso bars, which veers to the left in Carrobbio reaching one of the hidden wonders of Milano: Colonne di San Lorenzo, roman columns before a basilica with a square where people like to hang out.

Walk down Corso Porta Ticinese and you’ll reach the Mysterious Sant’Eustorgio bell tower, along with the church that holds the remains of the Three Mages.

To the right of neoclassical Porta Ticinese lies the Darsena, the ancient basin where the Navigli canals converge and where you can shop for a sandwich in the covered market or sit at a bistro for a quick lunch on the renovated quay by the water. 

Cool things to do:

    • enjoy a true Milanese aperitivo or make a selfie on a canal bridge at sunset, basking into the magical atmosphere of the lights and the water of the Navigli;
    • join the youthful crowd at the Colonne, drinking and chatting by Roman columns in front of Emperor Constantine’s statue and the vast basilica of San Lorenzo: it only happens in Milano;
    • visit the Tortona Design District beyond the Porta Genova train station (M2 Porta Genova FS). Along Via Tortona and Via Savona, in an industrial landscape, there is a cool succession of designer ateliers, stylist showrooms, bar lounges, select diners and fashion hotels;
    • visit MUDEC, the increasingly popular museum of world cultures. Then check out an event or a party, or just hook your laptop and sip a cup of tea at BASE, the city’s creative innovation space in Via Bergognone, in the former Ansaldo factory at the end of the Design District.