Stories from spring Milan

Amazing facts about this wonderful city.

On my very first visit to Milan, I stayed in a small hotel, a 40-minute walk from the city center. The hotel was called Minerva. By the way, this hotel still exists.

The hotel was next to the Porta Genova train station. And next to this hotel there are several channels. These are rather long canals filled with water, with bridges and even pleasure boats on these waterways.

I was very surprised that in Milan, a city far from the sea and from large rivers, you can see some things related to walking on water. I began to study this issue and it turned out that in the Middle Ages the main transport was water. Goods were transported by sea, entered rivers and climbed them to the most distant cities. Including Milan was considered almost a large seaport.

During its heyday, the canals formed a network of 150 km in length, connecting the city with rivers and lakes in the Lombardy region. Canals were used for irrigation, supplied the city with water and were ideal for transporting people, delivering goods from remote areas to the Alps and even to the sea. Marble was transported along these routes to the center of Milan for the construction of the Duomo, mined near Lago Maggiore in the Alps.

Leonardo Da Vinci himself was engaged in the arrangement of canals in Milan.

The construction of the oldest Ticinello canal began in 1179, and other canals quickly followed. A series of locks was built to overcome the vertical drop, which at that time was a rather serious technical problem. The Duke of Milan, Ludovico di Moro, at the end of the fifteenth century turned to Leonardo da Vinci for help, asking him to design an innovative water conduit system.

There were a lot of canals in Milan, and on this basis one could even compare Milan with Venice.

With the development of railways first and then motor transport, the river fleet began to lose its significance. This led to decline and water areas. The canals began to grind and overgrown with grass and debris.

Many channels were simply buried.

But still, several channels in Milan have remained to this day and create an amazingly pleasant atmosphere around. It is pleasant to sit in a cafe and look at the water, it is pleasant to walk along the canals and feel the pleasant smell of water.

Only three canals have survived to this day: Navigli della Martesana in the northeast, Grande Naviglio and Naviglio Pavese in southwest Milan. The last two form the basis of the area, which is now known as Navigli. Canals flow into the 750-meter Darsen pool in the heart of the old port. At the moment, Darcena has a rather deserted view next to one of the squares of Milan - Plaza XXIV Maggio.

So, the Minerva hotel, which was my refuge in Milan on my first visit to this city, is located just next to the Darsen pool.

It was there that I walked and was surprised at the presence of canals in such a land city.

There is another very funny story with these channels. Once I ended up in the city of Milan in late autumn. We arrived in Milan by car from Rimini with my wife, who had never been to Milan before. I decided to show her, among other things, the channels. We came from the center of Milan to the canals on foot. But there was no water at all in the canals. They scared their open and unpleasant bottom. We went into a cafe and asked where the water is. The waiter said that in the fall it often happens that there is no water in the canals. They are being cleaned at this time. Full-flowing canals are best seen in the spring.

Indeed, it’s a great pleasure to sit by the water and drink Italian red wine or some delicious local beer.

My stories about Milan.