A Dry Period
Logged February 26, 2011
Hundreds of years ago, Leonardo da Vinci had an idea to create a series of canals in Lombardia to be able to transport easily goods from around the region into Milan. This was particularly useful to transport the large blocks of marble from the mountains to the center of Milan for the construction of the Duomo. Those canals still exist today, primarily in a neighborhood called the Navigli—which means navigable canals in Italian.
A couple of times a year the canals are dry, either from lack of water flow from the moutains, or because the locks are closed upstream to drain them. It would be an excellent opportunity for the city to clean the trash out of the canals, but they don’t.
For a few years now I have thought it would be interesting to climb down into one of the canals to take pictures of the restaurant barges stuck in the mud. Today, I finally did it. These are some of the photos I took. If you click on the first one, it will retrieve the full size image. You can see a friend of mine leaning on the railing on the right, top. She’s keeping watch for the police—and reading text messages on her mobile phone. I didn’t think the police would care—this is Italy afterall—but thought it might be worth avoiding them. So her job was to warn me they were coming so that I could cower out of sight, along the wall. No police passed by, but many people were looking surprised to see me in the canal.
Incidentally, all of the pictures I took in the canal were taken with a Lumix GF1 camera and a Zeiss 35mm f/2 Biogon M-Mount lens. If you want to see a few more of them, go to my album on for the Navigli.
As you can see, it was a mess down in the canal. It didn’t smell too good either. Also, it was a pain trying to climb back out. The wall is over three meters high. I tried squeezing my foot into some openings and grabbing the bricks, but they started coming loose. I eventually found a cinder block and moved it to where there was a drain pipe a few feet up. The two of them gave me a couple steps up to be able to pull myself up without dropping my camera.
It was a bit unpleasant of a task taking these shots, but I’m glad I finally did this—rather than be irritated with myself every time I put it off and then missed the chance.