Milan - Navigli

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					      Navigli                                                                           blocks from the quarries of Candoglia to the Duomo. The canal system also pro-
                                                                                        vided irrigation for the plains of Lombardy and served as an important trade link
                                                                                        between the north and south, connecting a landlocked city to the country’s ports.
                                                                                        In 1929, Milan’s canal network was mostly filled in, on the orders of Mussolini, to
The Navigli area comprises what is left of Milan’s canal system (navigli means          make way for roads, as barges were superseded by road travel.
canals) – now just two long canals and a dock, located south of the city centre.
Milan’s entrepreneurs have capitalised on its canal-side prettiness, making the         Now, Navigli is an eclectic patchwork of old and new. At its heart is Porta Ti-
Navigli the stomping-ground of the city’s youth.                                        cinese, where the two canals and the docks meet; here traders were originally
                                                                                        marshalled by two imposing, pale yellow dazi (customs houses) that still preside
Fifteen years ago, the neighbourhood was characterized by bohemia: artists, musi-       over the centre of the action (although one contains a raucous bar and the other a
cians, poets, etc.; now it’s much less underground, but the Navigli remains atmo-       Communist club). The main strip, Corso di Porta Ticinese, is packed with young,
spheric, with a thriving nightlife and street scene. If subcultures (punks, Goths,      jeansy shops and hip yet cheap restaurants and bars, and leads north to the an-
graffiti kids and the like) are to be seen anywhere in Milan, the chances are            cient Roman Colonne di San Lorenzo – 16 Corinthian columns that flank the
highest here. The Navigli is spared the gloss of Centro, making for an authentic        church of San Lorenzo Maggiore.
window into old Milan. Old washhouses and tenement buildings line the canals,
many of which are now art ateliers and antique shops, and old barges are moored         To the west is Porta Genova, an up-and-coming area where lots of fashion de-
up as cafés and overspills to the canal-side bars and clubs.                            signers and photographers have opened studios. Also west is one of Milan’s most
                                                                                        important churches, the Basilica of Sant’Ambrogio, built in AD 386 by Milan’s pa-
Boat trips can be taken up the 50km-long Naviglio Grande (the more western ca-          tron saint, Ambrose. The two navigli themselves are crowded with tourists and stu-
nal) to the village of Gaggiano, past classical houses and old mechanical features      dents, who populate the bars, restaurants, cafés, art galleries, record shops, artisan
designed by Leonardo da Vinci (see Play). Work on the Naviglio Grande began             boutiques and junk shops. Once a month is the Mercatone dell’Antiquariato along
in 1177 and was completed in 1257; it took as its source the Ticino River that lies     the Naviglio Grande, an antiques market selling bric-à-brac and collectibles.
south-west of Milan and finished in the Darsena (the docks alongside Viale Goriz-
ia). The other, Naviglio Pavese, was built in stages from the 14th century till 1819,   In the summer, the Navigli is besieged by cool crowds, as both close to traffic
and flows out for 33km from the Darsena back into the Ticino. Originally, Milan’s        after 8.30pm and canalside bars and cafés stay open till late for jazz and other
waterways were a citywide medieval structure built to ferry the marble building         live music.


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sleep…




                                                                                                                                                                                sleep…
In a city powered by fashion and design, it’s surprising to discover that boutique
hotels took a long time to catch on. It’s even more peculiar considering Milan’s
abundance of accomplished architects and reputation for discerning style. Al-
though most hotels still cater for dark-suited businessmen and merchant bank-
ers, these options are generally huddled around Stazione Centrale, away from the
downtown glitz.

Fortunately, Milan has been under the developer’s spotlight since the new millen-
nium, thanks to public demand for hip hotels and designer add-ons, and over the
past decade big brands such as Bvlgari and Moschino have chosen Milan for their
first forays into the lucrative hospitality game. The design-heavy Expo 2015 and
CityLife skyscraper project – due for completion in 2014 – have given hoteliers
something to aim for. Relieved fashionistas can now opt for the colourful eccen-
tricity of the Gray, Hotel Straf, Petit Palais and über-chic sensation Town House
Galleria.

‘Haute hotels’, like the Park Hyatt Milano and Westin Palace, have sprung up all
over Milan like a winning game of Monopoly, taking their lead from erstwhile nu-
mero uno, super-luxe The Four Seasons. The chic/business crossover market has
been amply filled by the slick but stylish nhow and The Chedi, and will be a step
further along in 2010 as the new W and Armani hotels open for business.
                                                                                         Hotel Princepe di Savoia
Another trend is the antica locanda (or old-fashioned inn) – in chic Milan this
equates to a boutique-style bed-and-breakfast. Antiche locande Leonardo, Solferino
and Mercanti – situated in historic townhouses – are charmingly and sympatheti-         dry services, WiFi internet access and conference facilities. Milan’s high season is
cally styled, and all give the feeling of being a guest in someone’s home. Staff        during its world-famous Salone del Mobile furniture fair in late April, when bookings
retire when guests do, so receptions are only manned during the day; some offer         need to made well in advance. Nevertheless, don’t be deterred by the human traffic
night porters, others provide keys. Mod-cons are not a given in these more modest       – this is Milan at its most animated. In August – Milan’s low season – room prices
establishments, often because their landlords are resolute Luddites. Variations on      plummet, but be warned that during this month the city becomes a ghost town as
the theme include business B&B Foresteria Monforte, Hanoi-esque locanda Viet-           the Milanese vacate to the beach, and most restaurants, bars and clubs close. The
namonamour and the boutique suites of 3Rooms.                                           only people left are tourists, having bagged a suspiciously good deal through their
                                                                                        travel agent.
Some of the most important hotels in Milan are the oldest; here, guests can most
easily assimilate into real Milanese culture. Grand Hotel et de Milan and Hotel         The rates quoted here are for a standard double in low season and a one-bed-
Principe di Savoia both compete for the crown of grandeur. Others have forsaken         room suite in high season. All hotels are scored for style, atmosphere and location
modern improvements for conservation reasons (the Liberty-style Sheraton Diana          (highest scorers are near the Duomo, Milan’s nucleus). If it seems that many don’t
Majestic is one such behemoth).                                                         seem to offer much atmosphere, it’s probably because of the relative weighting
                                                                                        of corporate clients. Generally, Milan’s hotels have also been slow – unlike Paris,
Visitors can assume a four-star-plus hotel room will come equipped with a safe,         London and New York – to catch onto the hip hotel bar, and some of these are not
fridge/minibar, air con, noise insulation, satellite- and pay-TV, direct phone, laun-   made for hanging out in.


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Town House Galleria




                                                                                      sleep…
                      the best hotels
                      Top ten:                      Atmosphere:
                      1. Town House Galleria        1. Town House Galleria
                      2. The Bvlgari Hotel          2. Antica Locanda Leonardo
                      3. The Gray                   3. Petit Palais
                      4. Hotel Straf                4. Town House 31
                      5. Grand Hotel et de Milan    5. Hotel Spadari
                      6. Park Hyatt Milano
                      7. The Four Seasons           Location:
                      8. Hotel Principe di Savoia   1. Town House Galleria
                      9. Maison Moschino            2. Park Hyatt Milano
                      10. 3Rooms                    3. The Four Seasons
                                                    4. Hotel Straf
                      Style:                        5. The Gray
                      1. nhow
                      2. 3Rooms
                      3. Hotel Straf
                      4. Maison Moschino
                      5. Town House Galleria




                                                                                 31
       Sheraton Diana Majestic (left)       baroque outdoor bar; the lobby is more
       viale Piave 42, Porta Venezia        relaxed with deep cream sofas, parquet




                                                                                             sleep…
Tel: 02 205 81                              floor and eclectic ethnic furnishings
www.sheraton.com/DianaMajestic              from Morocco, Africa and the Orient.
Rates: €240–3,000                           The four-star Town House – the first in
                                            a chain of family-run boutique hotels
The Milanese revere the Diana for its       (also Town House 12, Piazza Gerusa-
glorious Liberty façade (from 1908) and     lemme, 12; tel: 02 8907 8511; and Town
its elite Diana Garden bar (see Drink).     House Galleria, see below) – does not
The bar overlooks the hotel’s delightful    have the facilities of a large hotel, but
gardens, which contain the statue of        its 24-hour hotel butler can prepare
the Roman goddess Diana, from which         meals (there’s no restaurant here) and
the hotel takes its name, and the much-     oblige most demands; laptops and mo-
boasted first swimming pool in Milan.        bile phones are available on request.
But the Diana’s rooms and corridors         The owners, who live next door, have
lack the grandeur of its century-old        been known to shuttle guests around
revolving doors, despite conservative       when taxis are unavailable. Rooms are
renovations that have included modest       simple and low-key (and expensive for
business facilities and a fitness room.      what they are); all include plasma TVs,
However, its old-style charm means          linen sheets and aromatherapy pillows.
that all 107 rooms and suites are dif-      Its exclusive B&B feel is most apparent
ferent, decorated in a classical imperial   at the communal breakfast table – a rev-
style in soft, earthy colours with large    olution in bleak hotel morning meals.
marble bathrooms. Modern touches in-
clude Bose CD players in every room,        Style 8, Atmosphere 8, Location 7
a clued-up concierge service and jog-
ging maps of local park Giardini Pub-
blici. The best rooms are those with a             Town House Galleria (bottom)
view of the garden – the biggest selling           via Silvio Pellico 8, Centro
point of this four-star hotel.              Tel: 02 8905 8297
                                            www.townhousegalleria.it
Style 7, Atmosphere 8, Location 8           Rates: from €1,500

                                            When Town House Galleria opened its
       Town House 31             (right)    doors in December 2006, it grabbed
       via Goldoni 31, Porta Venezia        Milan’s luxury market by its lapels and
Tel: 02 701 56 www.townhouse.it             shamelessly shook it up to the next
Rates: €150–490                             level of decadence. Boasting (an al-
                                            most unbelievable) seven stars, it tops
The design brief of Town House 31           Prada’s flagship store in the 19th-cen-
(named after its street number, not the     tury Galleria Vittorio Emanuele. It’s
room count – it has just 17) is ‘at home    equidistant from the Duomo and La
with a well-travelled sophisticate’. En-    Scala and an easy walk to boutique
try is through a Chinese pergola and a      heaven along the quadrilatero d’oro,


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posted:2/8/2011
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