If you liked Matteo’s article about Vico dei Lavandai, I’ll take you through a hidden gem located closeby: the lovely courtyards at Alzaia Naviglio 4, easily one of my favorite spots of Old Milan.
This is the home of Associazione Naviglio Grande, boutiques, private residences and much more. You can find “case di ringhiera” pretty much everywhere in Milan: the railing on the balcony, that’s what the ringhiera is. Each door on the balcony leads to a different apartment: there’s usually a tiny kitchen and a bigger bedroom, as this room would quite likely host a whole family (something that we still find quite frustrating when house-hunting today: who needs that big a bedroom?!).
The beauty of it is that each casa di ringhiera would be a small village within the neighbourhood: all sorts of activities took place in the courtyard, and everybody shared water and the essentials.
The courtyards at Alzaia Naviglio Pavese 4 are perfect examples of Old Milan’s case di ringhiera: the first courtyard (red houses) shows the most artistic side of Milan with its labs and boutiques; the second (the rustic yellow building) represents well the housings of Old Milan’s working class and the way people used to live before “uncool” areas turned “cool”.
Fact: many houses around Milan are painted light yellow. If you have the chance to travel around our region, especially in the oldest borghi and rural villages, you’ll see a lot of the traditional “giallo lombardo“, Lombard yellow.