Darsena di Milano
La Darsena, as the Milanese have seen it for the past four centuries, was commissioned and built by the Spanish governor Pedro Enríquez de Acevedo conte di Fuentes (1525-1610): it was right up against the new walls, and below them, an opening allowed access to the new Viarenna basin; the basin was situated, then as now, in the same area once occupied by the pond of Sant’Eustorgio. In September 2004, the Municipal authority of Milan granted the darsena area to a company that was to build an underground garage-carpark: the area was believed to be without any particular archaeological significance. However as soon as excavations began, the workers came across finds that required the intervention of the Superintendence and work came to a halt. There are foundations of Spanish walls and a wooden platform that is believed to be the bottom of the original Viarenna basin. As far as the basin is concerned, there is a shallow pool of water on the bottom that trickles away to the north and on the southern side a long island has formed that is now covered in lush wild vegetation and provides shelter for a number of bird species, a sort of clandestine natural reserve. As well as being the port of the city, in the past the darsena was a waterway junction of major importance: it received the waters of the Olona and those that came from the inner ditch and channeled them into the Ticinello which flowed past the gate of Porta Ticinese along the walls before veering south and heading towards the Vettabbia. From one end to the other the darsena dock was 750 metres in length and 25 metres wide with an area of 17,500 square metres and a depth of one and a half metres.