Visiting Milan’s canal district – part one
After you see the Duomo and the Galleria in Milan, head over to the canal district for a more rustic vibe and explore a different neighborhood. * For information on visiting Milan’s famous Duomo, how to walk on the rooftop, and how to get to the Duomo click here for a past post with all that information!
Originally Milan, Italy had five major canals with an active waterway system but they were mostly all covered and paved over in the mid 1900’s, what a shame! The original canal system in Milan was over 30 km long and connected the city to Pavia. But you can still visit a portion of the city where there are two canals; the area is called Navigli and is host to an interesting bohemian vibe.
From the canal area you can walk over a few blocks to see an old city gate, Porta Ticinese. The original gate was built in the 16th century and replaced in the 19th century with what you see today, which is considered a landmark building of Milan.
From the old city gate, make your way through the intersection and up Corso di Porta Ticinese, a busy street full of shops that leads to two major sights. You will quickly come to a small park and plaza with the Basilica of Sant’Eustorgio which is an interesting building and a must-see location for those who love art and architecture (see next post).
->Side note, if you like Italian shoes, there are two Mauro Leone shoe stores on this street. Great Italian shoes at good prices and always in fashion. Read more about Mauro Leone shoes by clicking here.
Further up Corso di Porta Ticinese street you will pass through a Medieval city gate and find yourself in a unique square with the Basilica of Saint Lawrence on one side and a row of Roman columns on another. The Basilica of Saint Lawrence has a rather stark interior but to the back is the Chapel of Saint Aquilino with 4th century mosaics. The Chapel is dedicated to Saint Aquilino of Milan and houses his remains.
The impressive row of Roman columns are called the Columns of St. Lawrence, Colonne di San Lorenzo in Italian, and it is one of the best known Roman ruins in Milan. The columns were originally part of a temple or bathhouse and moved to their current location in the 4th century. In fact, the open space between the columns and the Basilica was full of houses until 1935 when the area was renovated and restructured as you see it now.
There is a large park behind the Basilica and if you continue up the same street that the Roman columns are on you will reach Via Torino, which eventually leads to the Duomo.
How to get to Milan’s canal district by metro:
From Milan Central train station hop on the metro and take Green line towards Abbiategrasso and get off at “P.TA Genova FS” (7 stops from the main train station). The Porta Genova FS metro stop is by another train station, but from there you walk down Via Casale to the canal or walk down the main street of Via Vigevano.
If you choose to walk from the Duomo to the canal district you can, it might take about 45 minutes without stopping along the way. From the end of the Piazza del Duomo (with the large monument with all the lions on it) walk down Via Torino and then turn down Corso di Porta Ticinese (when you see Hotel Ariston on the corner). This road will lead you down to an old city gate which is just blocks away from the canals.