We want to tell you a bit about the Cerchia dei Navigli (Navigli circle)… This is the name of Milan main ring road, but once upon a time it simply was a ring of water surrounding the city!
Built more than 800 years ago, it was meant to be a defence ditch to protect the medieval city and was then transformed, 150 years later, in a navigable canal, thus boosting trade and wealth growth in Milan.
Now you can’t see the water anymore but while on the Bus 94 you will see some traces of it! We advise you to start your journey from the end of the line in Porta Volta, towards Moscova and end the journey in Cadorna Station (North Raylways). Remember that from your starting point, you are very close both to Parco Sempione and the fascinating Chinatown. So if you have some extra time on your schedule, why don’t you take advantage of it?
Now that you are on board, take your seat and keep your eyes and ears wide open!
You now have to chose whether seeing the Chiostri della Basilica di San Simpliciano Cloisters of Saint Simplician Basilica) or the ruins of the Ponte delle Gabelle di San Marco… We advise you to chose in advance because these two places are in opposite locations… If you would like to go to an enchanted place, we advise you visit the Cloisters. Therefore get off the bus in Largo Treves, follow the map directions and in 5 minutes you will reach the Basilica di San Sempliciano where you will be able to enjoy the peace and serenity of this beautiful place… Be careful! To enter the Cloisters, you mustn’t go in through the church but through a door with a sign that reads “Theology Faculty”… After finishing your visit, take a walk a get on the bus in Piazza Cavour… If it is lunchtime, indeed, you might want to visit some places we suggest (Jamaica ristorante e bar – Borgonuovo Cafè – Arcadia bar) and then take a stroll a greenery corner – unknown to most people – Giardini Perego (Perego Gardens).
If you have decided to follow water tracks, get off the bus in Piazza Mirabello and by walking for a few minutes you will get to this important symbol of hydraulic engineering… The Ponte delle Gabelle! Don’t worry about lunch, on your way you will still find two places where you can stop and eat… El Tombon de San Marc and straight ahead Latteria di San Marco(Saint Marc dairy).
If you didn’t stop at Perego gardens for a relaxing break after lunch, just remember that near the bus stop in Piazza Cavour you will find one of the entrances of the Giardini Pubblici right infront of you!
Take the bus once again, relax and at the “Archivio di Stato” (State Archives) stop you will be able to admire its beautiful and enchanting courtyard. If you are lucky enough, you could see another courtyard-garden at the Teatro di Verdura (Vegetable Theater) as well. Have you alighted? Well, get back on!
Whilst sitting comfortably in your seats try to imagine you are on a boat and not on the bus anymore… Right here in Via Mascagni a long time ago, before Navigli were closed, there was the Ponte delle Sirenette. It was used to go from one side of the Naviglio to the other… This bridge was then moved to Parco Sempione. Once here it was called the bridge of lovers, or the bridge of the ghisini sisters to symbolize the fact that it was made out of cast iron (ghisa in Italian)! Straight ahead, on your right, a stone balustrade reminds us once again that water used to pass here… You could look out of it and see the canals!
Keep dreaming about being on the boat, just a few stops and you will be at a crossroads with Via Laghetto… Here, you can choose whether remain on board or stretch your legs, it’s up to you… On your left you will find one of the most beautiful parks of Milan, Giardini della Guastalla (Guastalla gardens) while on your right, walking along Via Laghetto you will reach one of the most fascinating areas of Milan, due to the presence of the beautiful Università Statale and for the mysterious stories that have been associated with this neighbourhood (Witches in Milan)… If you then want to visit some beautiful cloisters where you will also to be able to have a drink, we advise you to go to Via San Barnaba, to the Chiostri dell’Umanitaria (Umanitaria Cloisters), they are really fascinating!
If you have taken a stroll or if you are still on the bus, at the stop in Corso di Porta Romana try to imagine another bridge that was right here and crossed the street… If you want to get off go and see two beautiful churches:San Nazaro in Brolo and San Calimero… Just a few steps away.
You will probably will not to miss this stop once you know you are close to Panarello confectioner’s. Here you can taste some delicious cannoncini with cream, and if you prefer a savoury snack go to Rossi&Rossi – next to Panarello – you will surely love it… If it is lunchtime you can have a seat and eat a slice of pizza!
Well… Did you have something to eat and drink? Are you ready to continue your journey navigating through the canals? We advise you to disembark near Parco delle Basiliche (Basilicas Park). We would like to remind you that you are still in the whitches area, so you can have a tour around this old borough following the advices found in Witches in Milan. If you prefer, you can enjoy a nice break at the park or go seeing – on foot or taking the bus for another stop – the beautiful San Lorenzo Maggiore square with the splendid ancient Roman colonnade (Walking around Mediolanum).
Remember that in Via De Amicis, on the opposite side of the colonnade, a small entrance will take you to an enchanting courtyard from which you will be able to access the beautiful Parco Archeologico dell’Anfiteatro (Amphitheatre Archeological Park). You surely have noticed this area teems with clubs and bars to have a stop and grab a bite, so stop talking about his and have a look at the map!
Now, on the march again! Get off at Sant’Ambrogio and you will be able to admire a stunning basilica… This is a mysterious yet fascinating place, you can visit it by walking through its splendid courtayrds. Most importantly, don’t miss the colonnade of the Devil! It is said that the two holes on the column are a mark leaved by the devils’ horns: he was stucked there for two days while fighting with sant’Ambrogio until he freed himself and went back to hell… It is also said that if you get closer to the holes you will be able to smell an acrid sulphur stink and if you put your ears close to them you will hear shouts from hell… It is also said that if you put your fingers within the holes you will be in luck! (Through the scary ways)
Take your fingers away from the holes and get back on your bus… At the crossroads with Corso Magenta, you can get off the bus and have a look at your right, at the corner you will see the historic Bar Magenta, a very old bar keeping its original sign – it is very interesting to see how it has been preserved… Maybe this is not the best place to stop and have a bite, but it is worth a quick look! On the left walk to Corso Magenta… We will lead you up to the superb Chiesa di Santa Maria delle Grazie, not to admire The Last Supper, but to show you an adorable inner cloister… called Chiostro delle rane ( Frogs Cloister)… Well… Hop inside and discover why it is called like this!
Here we are, nearly at the end of our tour… Just decide whether get back on the bus or walk to Cadorna Station… No, no, don’t worry, we don’t want you to take a train! We simply want to show you that huge Ago e Filo (needle and thread) in the middle of the square! Now you are at the end of the line and a pay attention, this is called Navigli Circle and you made a roud tour! You are now two steps away from Parco Sempione, on the opposite sode respect to your starting point. If isn’t too late and you aren’t tired yet you can visit it… And why not? You can go and see the famous Ponte delle Sirenette (Mermaids Bridge)!
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