• 2024.02.28
  • The delights of Milan in wintertime
It’s winter in Milan, when walking outside makes it feel like the cold is seeping into your bones. It’s often foggy too, driving the chill even deeper until your whole body is shivering. Walking in the thick fog makes your hair and eyelashes damp, even to the point of forming droplets when it really gets bad.

Yet, I imagine that there are some curious people that come to visit the city even in this unpleasant cold. And even they probably come away satisfied.

Italy is a Catholic country, so most of the shops are closed on Sundays. Because these restrictions may have loosened up a bit recently, the downtown shops stay open now and the city no longer falls silent on Sundays.

But there is still one Sunday a month that the Milanese spend in a characteristic way. Whether it’s in the blazing heat of the midsummer sun or the subzero cold of midwinter, it is always a lively scene along the canals on this one day.

The canals, or navigli, host a huge antique market on the last Sunday of each month. They’re a ton of fun, drawing crowds of tourists and local Milanese alike.

Even on Sundays without the antique market, the canals are lined on both sides with restaurants, shops, galleries, courtyards, and street food. They’re one of the most popular attractions in Milan for a reason, and you don’t want to miss them if you come to visit.

You might see, for example, a restaurant that’s cleverly decked out in an Alice in Wonderland or Spiderman theme, making you want to pop in to see the popular characters. There are also military surplus shops, vintage clothing stores, and many other unique sellers gathered in this area.

And you can be confident that the monthly antique market will be there as long as it doesn’t rain—even on the chilliest days. Everyone keeps their cheery mood even along the cold canals under cloudy skies, wandering around with hot coffee, hot wine, beer, or a cocktail in hand.

Even if you have no interest in shopping or antiques, it’s still fun to see the well-preserved antique laundry sites, or the foundation set up by Arnaldo Pomodoro, one of Italy’s most famous sculptors (incidentally, pomodoro means “tomato” in Italian). The home of celebrated poet Alda Merini or the bridge over the canal that’s named after her may catch your eye, or the Radetzky Kiosk—which is an old kiosk transformed into a modern art piece. There’s so much culture around that it’s easy to see the best of Milan in a concentrated area.

As an interesting aside, the bridge named after the poet Alda Merini is crammed with padlocks. Lovers come here to pray for eternal closeness by adding a lock, but one Milanese tells me that the practice started during wartime when soldiers attached the padlocks they used on their lockers to the bridge to commemorate the end of their military service. I think it’s a nice story that calls to mind young people embarking on a new phase of life.

The areas along Milan’s canals are pretty great.


  • Yuriko Mikami
  • JobMusician

A cellist based in Milan. Performs as a soloist also with some ensembles. Has a wide range of genres from classic to pop. Actually plays in a band on an Italian comedian's TV show.

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