You cannot really leave Milano without a visit to the Navigli: and there is no better way to admire them than on a bike. The original canal system of the Lombard Navigli (there are now five - Bereguardo, Grande, Martesana, Paderno and Pavese - is among the oldest in Europe.
Built starting from the 12th century, they enabled Milano to connect with Lake Maggiore (through the Ticino River), with Lake Como (through the Adda River) and with the city of Pavia and the Po River. These were important waterways both for transport and for irrigation. The Candoglia marble used for the construction of the Milano Duomo was carried on barges along the Navigli all the way from the quarries in Val d'Ossola, in present-day Piedmont.
Over the centuries, a world sprung up along the banks of the canals: noble summer residences, mills, castles, abbeys, and beautiful rural and natural landscapes that have led in time to a major cultural heritage area for the whole region. But let us now take a look at the five cycling routes along the waterways, an opportunity to bring sport, nature and art together.
THE NAVIGLIO GRANDE
BIKE RIDE FROM MILANO TO ABBIATEGRASSO (20 km)
The Naviglio Grande connects Milano’s Darsena dockland area to the Ticino.
Our bike itinerary, however, starts from Porta Genova station because the lively Navigli area is now almost entirely pedestrian, packed with restaurants and bars serving at outdoor tables. Furthermore, as many events take place in the area and people tend to crowd together, cycling around can be frustrating.
This route is not actually a cycle path but a service towpath, completely flat and paved but without a parapet (be very careful if you are with children), and may be used only carefully following the rules, such as the 15 Km/h speed limit.