10 Corso Como
Antonio Marras + Daniela Zedda

Navigli District

Everyday life has gotten in the way of me finishing my Milan travelogue...but there are a handful of things I still want to share with you! Here's one of them...

After lunch and shopping at 10 Corso Como, we strolled around the Navigli District; meaning "ships" in Italian, the Navigli was once a network of waterways and trade routes, designed in part by Leonardo da Vinci, and now home to restaurants, boutiques, and artist studios.

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Oringinally five canals, the oldest built in 1179, they connected the city with the rivers and lakes in the Lombardian region and were used for irrigation and transport  - both people and goods - to and from areas as far as the Alps and beyond. In fact, the marble used for the construction of the Duomo was transported via these waterways from the Lago Maggiore near the Alps.

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Traffic on the canals dwindled once road transportation took off, and some were filled in during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.  Only three canals survive today: the Naviglio della Martesana in the north-east and the Naviglio Grande and Naviglio Pavese in the south-west of the city.

This area was until recently an impoverished, working-class neighborhood and is still a bit "edgy."

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But in recent years, the houses along the canals were renovated, and many are now home to artist studios, restaurants and bars.

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Along the Naviglio Grande, you'll also find the Vicolo dei Lavandai, where women used to wash their laundry with water from the canal. There were children playing here on the day we visited:

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The Navigli is a fun, energetic part of town. I've had a long-time fascination with Leonardo da Vinci, and it is amazing to see a system of damns and sluices that he designed so many years ago. Like much of Milan, the neighborhood is an eclectic mix of ancient and modern.

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