This twilight tour of the Navigli district in Milan is organized as an early evening traditional Italian stroll, designed to appreciate the city and rub shoulders with locals. In this case, we're bringing along a local insider who will shape our stroll into an introductory Aperitivo Tour. We’ll discover a charming area of Milan known as Navigli, a favorite among locals where hopping nightlife lines the placid canal and, more importantly, where we will delve into the history of the aperitivo, finishing our time together sipping on a delicious cocktail and tasting local Italian snacks. This is a great way to begin a trip to Milan and answer a lot of the questions that come up on our first night in a foreign city.
Relics of the Three Kings
Our tour begins at Piazza Sant’Eustorgio, where our docent will introduce the overarching themes of the tour. We’ll pop into the Basilica of Sant'Eustorgio, one of the oldest churches in Milan, where we’ll discuss the 4th century church and original relics (bones of the Three Kings) that were housed here. We may well discuss the plunder of the church in 1164 by Frederick Barbarossa and the subsequent arguments over the return of the precious relics.
Leonardo da Vinci and Canals
As we leave this ancient church behind, we will meander through Navigli along the canals more commonly associated with Leonardo da Vinci. While Venice may be much better known for its series of canals, its Milanese counterparts also make for a tranquil stroll (with significantly less crowds). We’ll talk about the system of waterways that once connected the lakes to Milan, their function in order to transport materials such as the marble used for the Duomo and, lastly, why the canals were covered over. It’s thought that da Vinci was instrumental in designing the system of locks for the canals in the 15th century, under the direction of Ludwig II il Moro. We’ll admire the design and layout of the canals as we potter along the roads, pedestrian walkways and bridges.
The History of the Aperitivo
As we finish up our stroll together, our docent will take a seat with us as we engage in a typically Milanese activity: the aperitivo. But why and how did this become one of Italy’s most treasured affairs? Our docent will help to explain why this leisurely ritual, undertaken prior to eating, has become so entrenched. We’ll take a drink like campari, aperol, or prosecco based cocktail (or a non-alcoholic beverage for those who feel so inclined) and taste some snacks from the region and Italy in general, such as olives, local cheeses, and small toasts heaped with fresh ingredients. This will be a perfect time to ask our docent any questions we might have about Italian traditions and culture, as well as any lingering ambiguities around making the most of our time in Milan.
For a more focused examination into Milanese cuisine we recommend our Milan Food Tour
At the end of our time together, we will leave one another sated, relaxed, and with a greater understanding of the endearing area of Navigli. Our docent will have shared their knowledge of the area, Milanese history, and delved into the subject of the aperitivo and its place in Italian culture.
Where do we meet? Where does it end?
We meet near the Basilica di Sant'Eustorgio and ends by the Naviglio Grande canal. Your confirmation email will have the exact meeting point details along with a map, and 24/7 phone number.
Can I do this tour earlier in the day?
For private groups, yes. Please note your preferred start time in the travel notes section.
What if it’s raining?
Tours operate rain or shine, but in the case of inclement weather, your docent will modify the tour so more time is spent indoors. It never hurts to have an umbrella on hand.
Is this seminar walking intensive, and/or wheelchair accessible?
Please let us know your requirements and we may well be able to adjust the tour for reduced mobility.
Is this tour appropriate for children?
This walk is not a part of our official family program. That said, we may be able to arrange a visit with a family-friendly docent. Please contact us.