Boating Fair in Milano

View of Navigli during boat fairWouldn’t you rather be on a boat right now? Ideally, with the sea breeze blowing through your hair, enjoying a refreshing drink, on your way to a white sandy beach with your besties.

If you’re in Milan this weekend, you might not be able to make this exact scenario happen, but the NavigaMi boat fair may be about as close as you can get.

Join other boating and sailing enthusiasts to check out 80 boats and 70 exhibitors. This year, the fair will be held on the Darsena, a great location and one of Milan’s best newly renovated areas.

And after getting info on the latest boating developments, you could meet up with friends and have that refreshing drink… on dry land.

Where: Darsena; M2 Porta Genova
When: 13-15 May, 10am-11pm


11 Brand New Attractions and Services in Milano Because Expo

2015 is a great year for Milano. Lots of travel publications are talking about the city as a top destination because of the huge event being hosted here: Expo Milan 2015. (You probably know all about the fair by now… if not, get more info in our practical guide to the Expo.)

To welcome all the extra visitors coming from near and far to the Expo, the city has spruced up, putting its best face forward. The hip canal area, new parks, new exhibits, the Duomo area, public transport and everything in between have all been revamped. So we’ve gathered a hefty sampling of all the new things going on around town, just for you. You’re sure to find a thing or two that you’re interested in!

Check Out the Renovated Navigli
The Navigli area has long been one of the coolest places in Milano for hanging out with friends, sipping a cool drink. Now it’s even better!
View of canal1 Darsena
: The historic harbor of the city was reopened in late April and was quickly embraced by the city as a place to hang out and enjoy the water. There’s a large walkway, a food market and a foot bridge. What’s not to like?
2 Mercato Metropolitano
: Fancy a snack? Or maybe a movie? Then this newly refurbished area near the Porta Genova station is the place to go! It’s like a farmers market meets street food meets outdoor amphitheater. Wander around the market and you’re sure to find something cool or tasty.

Chill in New Green Areas
Milan has its share of parks and greenery tucked in between its busy streets and tall buildings. Here are the latest editions.
Night view of castle and benchesWheatfield: A living art project created by Agnes Denes and sponsored by the Riccardo Catella and Nicola Trussardi Foundations and Confagricoltura. Local citizens planted the field a few months ago and now the field is growing, providing a nice green space in the city. The wheat will then be harvested when ready. It’s a nice place to take a stroll on the path that cuts through the field and admire the juxtaposition of agriculture surrounded by new skyscrapers.
Piazza Castello: The pedestrian area around the Castle has gotten a face lift, with added benches and trees. The white structures kinda match ExpoGate, which is located in the same square. Why not read a book in the shade and take in the scenery?

Browse Exhibit Collections in Brand New Spaces
Milano is home to lots of great exhibition spaces and museums… including two brand new ones!
Empty cafe interiorFondazione Prada
The fashion giant’s foundation just opened their amazing space for exhibits in an area on the outskirts of the city, completing an amazing renovation job on an industrial area. Before the grand opening, there was only one location in Venice, but now Prada’s home town is hosting a huge and very cool space for the foundation. Don’t forget to check out the bar area, designed by film director Wes Anderson. Inaugurated on 9 May, admission is €10.
Museo della Cultura (MUDEC): The Milan Museum of Cultures opened in late March of this year. Located in the hip Tortona neighborhood, it hosts exhibitions showcasing the diversity of world cultures. The two inaugural exhibits feature traditional African works of art and representations of world cultures in Milan in recent history. Admission, which includes an audio guide, is €13 for anyone under 26.

Hang in the Piazza Duomo Area
Restoration works on the Galleria are finishing up and there are a few new tourist activities in the most central area of the city.
Rooftop of GalleriaHighline Galleria: Seemingly inspired by the relatively new NYC park that was built on an old elevated train track, this is Milan’s very own bird’s eye view of the city. Visitor can explore the upper level of the iconic Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II and admire the Liberty architecture. Full price tickets are €12, but they’re half off until 20 June, and reduced prices are available for large groups. Open until 11pm.
Palazzo Marino: The office of the Milano city government also happens to be a spectacular palazzo dating back to the 16th century. There are 13 areas open to the public, 4 of which have never before been accessible. Admission is free and guided tours in various languages are organized several days a week.

Test Out the Enhanced Public Transport
With a public transportation system that already does a pretty good job of meeting the needs of the public, the city is still expanding its offer. Check out the latest additions below.
Electric bikes
: Milan’s bike sharing scheme has recently added ebikes to their fleet. Environmentally-friendly (they run on solar power), these bikes are great for longer distances and only cost a little more than the traditional bicycles.
10 M5 subway line: The newest underground line now goes all the way to San Siro stadium – just in time for the start of the summer concert season! For info on concerts, check out the TicketOne website.

Try Out Some Expo in Città Events
11 Expo in Città: Last, but not least, many of the above initiatives are included in the wide variety of events included in Expo in Città. This is a website that groups together anything and everything related to the Expo but located in the city and it’s a good way to get a comprehensive overview of what’s going on. You can browse by date, admission price, category or type of venue. You’re sure to find a cool event suited to your tastes! Browse on the Expo in Città website.

*photos from the Comune di Milano website and the Fondazione Prada twitter feed

Finding a Flat in Milano

From an early age many people, particularly males, are taught that men “don’t need anyone” in order to succeed, and that a real man can make it on his own without any help from anybody. Taking this belief as a gospel truth, the youth is taking the plunge to find their new home abroad where they usually come to get a university degree.  However, Milan is not the place where one can find the accommodation easily without having friends living there or spending late nights in front of computer screens while doing a research about all ins and outs of the housing in Milan. Therefore, if you think that you’re smart enough to find the room by yourself, believe me, you’re wrong! That’s because finding the right place in Milan depends on 30% luck, 20% patience and 50% information. So just let me give you some advices that, I hope, will make your hunting for a room less painful!

I step: Where can I find offers?

The websites where you can find apartments and rooms rented by locals or agencies are already provided here.

II step: What should I ask the landlord?

That’s the first thing I found myself thinking about when I called to the owner of the apartment that I found on ‘Bakeca’. If it is the first time you are searching for an accommodation in Milan, the following questions might be helpful to you!

  • Does the cost of the room/apartment include spese condominiali ? (service charges that usually includes heating and water)
  • Does the cost of the room/apartment include heating ( it. Riscaldamento)
  • Does the cost of the room/apartment include other utilities such as gas, electricity, internet, trash? (it. Bolletta della luce, gas, internet)
  • What is a security deposit for a room/apartment? (it. Caparra/ deposito/ cauzione)
  • What is the method of paying for a room/apartment? (sometimes you can come across with a word trimensile while looking through the offers. It means that you have to pay the rent every 3 months.)
  • Is there any possibility to sign the contract? ( If you need to sign a contract, it’s better to ask for a standard one which basically means that you’ll sign the contract for 4 years with a possibility to end it giving 3 months notice)
  • Who is living in the other rooms? ( in case you’re looking for a room)
  • Which intercom button should I press? (it.‘citofono’; in case you’d like to come to see the room/apartment)

After asking all of those questions, you should ask when it would be possible for you to come to see the apartment or just thank the person for his time and keep looking for other offers.

III step: what should I ask during the meeting?

  • Don’t forget to double check the information about the costs, deposit, contract.
  • How much notice you are obliged to give before leaving the room/apartment? ( usually it’s 3 months notice)
  • How much do the flat mates usually pay for gas, electricity, internet?
  • When you will be able to move in?
  • Is the furniture included in the rent? (there are some rooms without furniture so you may buy it by yourself or you could buy it from the person that was living in the room before you)

IV step: First come, first served

If you really liked the room/apartment after seeing it, don’t wait for too long! Say your final answer as soon as possible and ask the owner when you could sign the contract! Remember that it is extremely important to sign the contract as fast as you can since otherwise the room might be given to another person even though you said that you’re taking it! You know what they say – money speaks louder than words! So make sure you’re going to be served first.

Keep calm and happy hunting!
Looking for some more information? Check this out!

I Scream for Ice Cream!

Among other things fashion, fine wine, and art are often associated with Italy lest we not forget the food, and who can for forget the best loved dessert of them all? Ice cream. Italy claims to be the inventor of ice cream (whether this is true or not is not for me to discuss here) but it certainly aided its popularization with immigrants opening parlors throughout the world.

A massive 9.2 liters are consumed per capita in Italy per year (and I’m responsible for just about half of that) and with the vast array of beautiful colors and flavors available it is easy to see why. It is consumed throughout the year, hot or cold (the weather obviously), with 54% of Italians eating it more than once a week.

With so much at stake Italians will go to great lengths so seek out artisans who produce the unique and I am here to share with you some of those secrets today. Here is a list of my top 3 gelaterias in Milan:

3) Amorino
Alzaia Naviglio Grande, 24 (Navigli area)

You will no doubt when asking for the best gelateria hear the words Grom, Grom, Grom. Grom is excellent and deserves a mention but it is not special. Amorino has a vast range of flavours with no limits with your orders, you can have as many tastes as you want for the size! If you are a fan of cinnamon (and why wouldn’t you be?) I recommend the Speculoos, it’s truly life changing!

2) Shockolat
Via Giovanni Boccaccio, 9

Located a stone’s throw from Parco Sempione and a favorite night haunt of many locals, this gelateria surely can’t be matched in terms of it’s chocolate offerings. Combined with a sumptuous pistachio this is not to be missed!


1) Drum roll please… Gelateria Marghera
Via Marghera, 33

This is a recent and startling discovery. After dinner with friends in the area (also recommended as there are many fine restaurants) we went in search of something sweet and were fortunate enough to find this place. On entering our eyes feasted on an orgy delectable delights. It wasn’t just the ice cream available it was the mini ice creams, ice cream cakes and other unique inventions. As a true fat kid at heart I found the choice impossible and was forced to go back for seconds. The ice cream flavors themselves are quite limited but my word…just try it!

NB: An honorable mention should go to Stick House located on Via Vigevano. This parlor specializes in ice lollys but as it is not strictly ice cream it just missed out on the list.

Why Does Milano Have the Navigli Canal System?

What makes Milano special? Fashion and design are certainly big draws to the city, but as for physical aspects, the Navigli area is pretty unique. Venice and Amsterdam are cities that are very famous for their canals, but they’re not the only world cities historically using canals for transportation and irrigation. Milano still has some traces of a canal system that used to be much bigger.

Bridge over NavigliSome of the important functions of the canals include irrigation, transportation and especially transportation of goods. In fact, starting in the late 14th century, the marble used to build the Duomo was transported along the canal system from Candoglia, an area of Italy located near the Swiss border. Canals once reached all the way to the center of town, close to the Duomo.First things first. Most people who live in Milano are familiar with the local system of canals known as the Navilgi. But where did that name come from? The word naviglio does not mean “canal” in Italian, but rather “fleet.” It is most likely derived from the Latin navigium, which means “to navigate.”

Though irrigated systems date back to Milano’s foundation in the Roman times, the first part of today’s canal system dates back to the 12th century. The Ticinello canal was opened in 1179, allowing for the construction of the Naviglio Grande, the first of its kind built in Europe. Later, Leonardo da Vinci was the engineer behind the locks system at the end of the 15th century. The locks were need to solve the problem of different altitudes in the area and between canals.

As years went on,  more work was done by various rulers throughout the following centuries. In 1805 Napoleon completed work on the Naviglio Pavese, connecting Milano to the Po and therefore to the Mediterranean, with other routes leading to Lake Maggiore and Lake Como.

Then, during the second half of the 19th century, canal transportation lost some of its allure, partly because of its slow speed (only 3km per hour!) and in part because of the rise of rail transport. The Martesana canal was still used on a regular basis for passengers and supplies, but the internal ring fell out of fashion because of hygiene reasons and increased land traffic. With other industries and the city’s use of cars, the internal ring was covered in 1929-1930, during Fascist rule.

If you look around at the building surrounding the Naviglio Grande, they are very typical of Milano because they were built with the wealth of the canals: wrought-iron bridges, 19th century farms and palaces and churches (all built before the arrival of the automobile).

Today, however, many Milanese are for the re-establishment of the canals around the city, including the inner ring. Locals are generally very opinionated one way or the other, on the one hand believing the canals bring a unique flavor to the city with the hopes of helping a green revolution, on the other hand preferring to maintain space for cars and possibly preventing unhygienic conditions that lots of water could foster.

The people voted and made their opinions heard during a public referendum held earlier this year. The referendum, entitled “Restore the Darsena Canal and Re-Open the Milanese Navigli System,” states:

Would you like the City of Milan to reorganize the Darsena as a port of the city and an ecological area and gradually re-open the hydraulics and landscape of the Milanese Navigli system based on a specific project?

The referendum was passed by citizens, but there is still a lot of controversy behind the initiative. It’s now only a matter of time before we see what changes will be made.

For more detailed information about the Navigli, check out these sources (in Italian):