When Milan hosted Expo15 last year (formerly known as The World’s Fair) finding a reasonable hotel room proved to be difficult for my dates (three nights) so I turned to AirBnb. Searching through all the options, I kept coming back to the Navigli apartment – it was located in Navigli on the canal and had good reviews. I didn’t know Milan had canals so I was intrigued. It seemed like a good choice and was fairly priced at $122 per night (total of $366 for the stay). Here’s my review of the Airbnb Milan Studio in Navigli Entertainment District.
Navigli is the entertainment district full of restaurants, bars, music and art. It is easily reached by the green line metro M3 (S. Porta Genova) or a €20 taxi ride (if you have luggage like I did but I had such an interesting conversation with taxi driver who is a huge country music fan) from Centrale train station. A supermarket, takeaway and a bank are a quick five minute walk. This is a neighborhood of Milan that is more local than tourist. The canals run through a pedestrian only zone of about eight blocks with bridges connecting both sides. The studio flat was at the corner of one of the bridges.
Arrival at the Studio
The owner, Lorenzo, was stuck at work, so his friend met me outside. We walked in the door to the courtyard, made a right to the elevator (yeah, elevator!) which needs key access and easily ascended to the 2nd floor (if you take the stairs, remember you are going to the 3rd floor as the bottom floor is zero). There are two key locks on the door (four deadbolts) and with that we were in to the studio flat. It looks exactly like the photos – no surprises there.
I was explained all of the keys – ground floor door, elevator key, front door keys and how one goes first before the other. I was offered a glass of water and shown how the kitchen stuff works. Then the bed details. Ok, I forgot about the bed part – it was a high loft/bunk bed. I realized that my climbing up to the bed days are over especially with the get up in the middle of the night jaunts and the oops I forgot about the stairs mishaps of my younger days. I pointed to the couch/trundle bed and said, I’m going to sleep there. He apologized for not preparing that bed and I said “no worries, just give me the sheets and blanket and I’m fine”.
Lorenzo has a few printouts of recommendations for the area – restaurants, sights to see and other need to know information. He also has a map showing you where the places are in relation to the flat. He doesn’t offer a manual like my Venice AirBnb properties did so no required reading. His friend showed me the electric circuit breakers (I hoped I didn’t need to use those!).
The Milan Studio Flat
Well equipped with a loft bed and trundle bed. There is a small television with headsets on the table and a nice sized kitchen to work in. There is a washer (no dryer because this is Italy!) and fast wi-fi. The bathroom has shelving for your toiletries (hand soap is provided), a hair dryer and walk in shower that had good water pressure. I was given two towels and requested an extra without a problem. There is a balcony with a small table and two chairs and serves as the smoking area as well as providing you a nice view of the canal and bridge. It is a good size for solo travelers and couples. A family might be a bit on top of each other in the studio in my opinion.
The Singing Italians
A benefit of the entertainment area is that you get to be entertained while you work or while you are in your PJs – I had live music until midnight one night (the band was pretty good and like the Italians I found myself singing along to the popular U.S. music). Yet another night, I had a bevy of “buona serra” and “ciao” that I wanted to yell “goodnight already! Just say a blanket “ciao” and go home” – it was a big group and everyone did a round of good-byes.
The Navigli Entertainment Area
The comments on the flat mentioned the noise from the bars/restaurants and to bring earplugs if you are a light sleeper. Well there is noise, no way around that (and Lorenzo can’t control that aspect) from below so luckily my Expo15 schedule worked perfectly – I was up late and slept in.
The plethora of restaurants gives you so much choice you won’t know where to go first – Napoli pizza, Steakhouse, Tapas, Pub, Gelato, Wine Bar, Italian, etc. With my busy schedule I didn’t quite enjoy enough of the area as I could have – it was a lost opportunity. The benefit of the busy nightlife was feeling safe on the metro and walking back to the flat near midnight alone. The area was busy in the day with tourists on canal tours and at night with Italians enjoying good food, wine and music.
Overall – the Milan Studio in Navigli
I met Lorenzo on check-out day for a quick chat – I found out he has a few properties in Milan for rent through Airbnb. I wasn’t able to stay later as he has new guest arriving – this is a popular studio for him. He was kind to order me a cab to my next Milan stop, the Westin Milan, and help me with my bags to the taxi. The flat was perfect for my needs during Expo15, shame I didn’t stay longer to sample all the restaurants and feel a bit more local.
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