A lasting remnant of medieval Milan, the historic alleyway of Vicolo dei Lavandai juts out from the Naviglio Grande canal, close to the Darsena di Porta Ticinese (dockyards). Taking its name, which means ‘Alley of the Launderers’, from its previous incarnation, the alley was used as a wash house from the Middle Ages up until the 1950s, where washerwomen would plunge clothes and linens into the stream and scrub them with soap on the waterfront.
The focal point of the Vicolo dei Lavandai is a narrow central canal way and along its banks the stone stalls and old ‘brellins’ (wooden launderers’ stools) can still be seen. Overlooking the canal, the former grocer’s store, where soap and bleach was sold to the workers, has now been transformed into the El Brellin restaurant, and a number of other cafés line the banks.
Vicolo dei Lavandai is located by the Naviglio Grande canal in Milan’s Navigli District.