The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is one of the world’s oldest shopping malls. Housed within a four-story double arcade in central Milan, the Galleria is named after Victor Emmanuel II, the first king of the Kingdom of Italy. It was designed in 1861 and built by Giuseppe Mengoni between 1865 and 1877.
As soon as it was finished, the Galleria became immediately famous for its large size, extraordinary for the time and sign of a new era.
The structure consists of two glass-vaulted arcades intersecting in an octagon covering the street connecting Piazza del Duomo to Piazza della Scala. The street is covered by an arching glass and cast iron roof, a popular design for 19th-century arcades, such as the Burlington Arcade in London, which was the prototype for larger glazed shopping arcades, beginning with the Saint-Hubert Gallery in Brussels (opened in 1847), thePassazh in St Petersburg (opened in 1848), the Galleria Umberto I in Naples (opened in 1890) and the Budapest Galleria.
The central octagonal space is topped with a glass dome. On the ground of the central octagonal, there are four mosaics portraying the coat of arms of the three capitals of the Kingdom of Italy (Turin, Florence and Rome) plus Milan’s. Tradition says that if a person spins around three times with a heel on the testicles of the bull from Turin coat of armsthis will bring good luck.
Today it can still be considered the “parlour” of the city, a place where you relax and enjoy a coffee at the bar Camparino, let yourself be enchanted by the cute hats of Borsalino and the collections of Prada and Louis Vuitton, or stop for an aperitif at Savini.
Only thing you need to do in order to reach there is to take the red or yellow line with metro and take off in the stop called Duomo, the second alternative is as always the tram if you’d like to enjoy the city sight at the same time in your journey.