Isola and Moscova

 Low cost lunch on the Navigli: The Café Martesana

A laundrywoman arranging her rebel lock of hair under the white cap and looking sideways to the young gentleman who has just arrived and who smiles back to her. A fleeting glance and a quick smile intercepted by the young man’s mother who, as expected, is going to interfere with their love story. This is the scenario you have to keep in mind when approaching the Martesana Cafè. Today, there is a couple holding two Sprits and smoking Lucky Strikes under the centenary wisteria.

One hundred years ago, under the new-born wisteria, there was probably the above-mentioned squire’s footman enjoying the show of the advances of his shameless master towards the shy laundrywoman. The yellow walls of the Cafè, in fact, used to house an inn, a sort of ancient bed and breakfast where, among the guests, slept Napoleon himself. “It was also the setting of one of Stendhal’s and Casanova’s novels!” proudly tells us Cristiano, the owner, who has been here with his father Michele since the ’90s. He is clearly talking about one of those novels with laundrywomen, squires and jealous mothers. If you go there in summertime, something we strongly recommend, make sure to sit at one of the tables in the terrace and enjoy the silence and the panorama: even though you are only a few steps from Melchiorre Gioia, you will feel as if you were hundreds of kilometers away from the Milanese bustle.

Enjoy a drink (be aware: there is not the classic formula aperitivo-buffet but you can accompany your glass of wine with a selection of salumi and cheeses) while looking at the Martesana, the only section of the Navigli designed by Leonardo and imagining the possible endings of the love story between the squire and the laundrywoman.


Via Melchiorre Gioia, 194, Milano, MI, Italia
€  3-15
Summer (April 1 - October 31) Every day: 08.00-02.00 Winter (November 1 - March 30): 08.00-23.00. Closed on Saturday
02 6700495    
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Other spots of interest in the neighborhood