Once its name was Via Provinciale Veneta, but nobody remembers that anymore. Today Via Padova is a recurring topic, but not in reassuring terms. The years have transformed it: from being a suburban street, in the 60’s and 70’s it became the street where professors and employees of the new bourgeoisie came to live, each in search of a piece of Milan’s dream.
Today things have changed again: Via Padova is no longer the haven of the emerging middle class, but the corner where the people who don’t have enough money to flee elsewhere, such as immigrants, take refuge. Out of 33 thousand residents, nearly one-third are in fact foreigners. Walking along Via Padova you come across Chinese bars, South American Restaurants, Arab butchers and slot halls crowded with Slavs. At the Bus 56 stop you almost exclusively see foreigners, Italians prefer to travel by other means.
In this multi-ethnic society, different races don’t mix nor meet. At best, they clash. The powder keg exploded in 2010 when a 19 year old Egyptian guy was killed and his death triggered a veritable Arab-Latin racial clash: overturned cars, broken windows, burned scooters. Everything that was suspected to be owned by a South American was threatened to end up in ashes. Beyond the striking facts there the everyday routine events: Via Padova records over 300 violent events each year, including robberies, fights and assaults. And the drug trafficking increases the degradation and devaluation of the area.
In addition to the crumbling banister buildings where social tensions are smoldering, Via Padova, in the short stretch (less than a kilometer) along the Martesana canal, has a wonderful sequence of villas. This picturesque corner, alien to the dynamics of the hectic city, was once nicknamed the ‘Riviera Crescenzago’ and also ‘Riviera di Milano’. Here some of the rich of the time lived in luxury, such as the industrial entrepreneur Domenico De Ponti and Enrico Mangili, who in 1875 invented confetti. The highlight is Villa Lecchi, built right next to the bridge that crosses the canal. It’s the Lecchi family home from the ‘700, which during the 19th century hosted a textile company and has lost the wonderful frescoes that used to adorn it, but it is populated with new life: today it houses the cultural association Villa Pallavicini which deals with cultural integration and helps people in difficulty.
You can enjoy the beautiful architecture riding a bicycle on the bike path that runs along the canal. On two wheels, surrounded by the elegant residences framed in a rich vegetation, you get the impression of being somewhere else, and not in the city of Milan. It is, to all effects, a pleasant oasis of relaxation, where you can take a break from the dynamics of a fast-paced metropolis.
Along the bike path that runs along the canal, the Cascina Martesana has returned to life, a cultural hub that hosts exhibitions and concerts, and where you can play table tennis, relax in a hammock drinking a beer or a fruit smoothie with friends.
Not everyone knows that Via Padova also borders another green lung. It is the Parco Trotter, for a long time neglected and venue of wasters and Latin gang members, the park came back to life thanks to the association Città del Sole – Amici del Parco Trotter, and occasionally it hosts concerts and events. Another association trying with difficulty to redevelop the area is Via Padova è meglio di Milano, which is based solely on the efforts of volunteers and that currently, due to lack of popular support, has decreased activity.
We recommend the Loft 21 and the wine bar Ligera. Ligera refers to the historic underworld of Milan. This bar has a 100% 70s style, including the nice barman. In both places the concerts are routine.
Speaking of mobility, in addition to the bus 56 which has been already mentioned, remember that Via Padova is well served by the metro: Reaching it is a piece of cake, stopping at Loreto with both the MM1 and MM2 lines. A point in its favor, given the recent traffic control policies. And the bike path that runs all along the street adds even more value.
Worth writing down in your agenda is the farmers market on every second Saturday of the month, where you can buy groceries in a friendly family atmosphere.