Europe Travel News

Hunt for antiques on Milanese canals

Milan is one Italy's greatest cities, boasting a wealth of fashion, art and architecture. Woven into Milan's heart is a series of navigli, or canals, which serve as a hub for commerce, though not quite in the way they were originally intended.

Drifting roads
The city is landlocked, and the Navigli District was developed as an easy way of bringing goods and construction supplies into the city, according to The Associated Press. Milan's alleys and these river roads all contribute to a long and storied history. The canals themselves date back nearly 1,000 years, each displaying the city's engineering prowess. The Ponte di Pietra, or the stone bridge, is a monument to changing times and misleading names, having been originally built out of wood, cast in iron by 20th century Austrians and finally cast in concrete, according to The Associated Press. The Vicolo privato del Lavandai?, which translates to "launderer's alley," is where women once gathered to wash clothes on wooden washboards.

An evening on the water
Now, the canals are an eclectic scene for restaurants, cafes and street markets. Strolls along the canals will turn up bars and pubs housed in former warehouses. Landlocked boats have been converted into clubs for all-night dance parties, a Frommer's favorite. In the evening hours, Milanese drift from restaurant to restaurant, snacking on appetizers and drinks before dinner. Gelaterias and cafes are never hard to find.

Weekly wares
While the nightlife can be charming, one of the big draws for travelers is the antiques market held along Milan's oldest canal, the Naviglio Grande. On the last Sunday of every month except for July, the banks are filled with vendors and stalls selling a diverse array of wares. Shoppers may find furniture, clocks, silver, jewelry, books, glassware and prints up and down the waterfront, and may peruse at their leisure. Unlike some farmer's markets, this is an all-day affair, lasting from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m.

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