Milan has a dream that has never been forgotten: reaching the sea by means of the river Po. The city took the first step in bringing the dream into reality by building the Naviglio Grande canal in 1365.
For sake of convenience, the itinerary begins from the Basilica of Sant’Eustorgio, and it continues in Corso di Porta Ticinese to reach the system of canals, commonly known in the city as Navigli.
The Darsena, once the city’s canalside port, is characteristic for its Bohemian atmosphere of traditional residential houses and a large number of nightlife venues. The tour then reaches Vicolo dei Lavandai, a national monument, with its old washing stones. It continues along Alzaia del Naviglio Grande, the canalside street which is the location of the traditional Antiques fair, in the section from Viale Gorizia to the bridge at Via Valenza. After a few hundred metres, you reach the Church of San Cristoforo, considered as Milan’s lighthouse because it marked the end of the journey for the barges arriving in the city.
Basilica of Sant’Eustorgio – Corso di Porta Ticinese
According to legend, the remains of the Magi were conserved here in a marble sarcophagus in the right transept. After Emperor Frederick Barbarossa conquered Milan in 1164, the relics were taken to Cologne, where bishop Rainald von Dassel initiated construction of the Cathedral specifically to house them. A small part of these relics were returned to Milan in 1905, following negotiations by Cardinal Ferrari.
Darsena – Vicolo dei Lavandai
The Darsena was built from 1603. Milan’s canal port comprised 750 metres of wharfs, and it was one of the largest river ports in the country. Today it is famous principally for the hundreds of nightlife venues in the area. It is considered as a classic location for evening leisure entertainment.
The Antiques market
The traditional antiques market is held on the last Sunday of each month, on the canalside, in the section between Viale Gorizia and the bridge at Via Valenza. Collectors, and everybody interested in browsing through stalls packed with antiques and curios, enjoy this occasion which presents a range of items, such as antiques from all ages including modern styles, prints, postcards and books.
Church of San Cristoforo
In the old days, the building was a landmark for the bargemen because it showed that the end of their voyage was not far off. The church is interesting from the art historical point of view. It comprises two sections, one dating back to the 12th century, and another more recent, 15th century, part. The location is a favourite with the people of Milan, and it is famous partly for the ceremony of blessing for cars, held on 24th July, which is the day dedicated to the saint.