The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan, is the oldest shopping mall in Italy. The arcade homes an array of the most luxurious Italian boutique shops and designer brands and it is possibly the most beautifully picturesque places I have ever visited, decorated from the floor to the ceiling.
The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, which is sometimes nicknamed “il salotto di Milano” (Milan’s drawing room), is an elegant nineteenth-century shopping arcade. It houses some of the most luxurious boutiques in Milan.
The structure built between 1865 and 1877 is formed by two arcades shaped like a Latin cross covered by a glass and iron dome. The Galleria is located between two of the main monuments in Milan: il Duomo and the Teatro alla Scala. In our opinion, this magnificent shopping arcade is one of the most interesting sights in Milan.
The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II contains brands such as Prada, Gucci and Louis Vuitton, as well as other high-end boutiques. It also houses numerous well-decorated restaurants, including some of the oldest establishments of Milan such as Café Biffi, founded in 1867.
Surprisingly, visitors can also find a McDonald’s in the Gallery. This said, the fast-food restaurant is beautifully decorated with black columns and gold decoration to blend in with the other establishments. It has a comfortable terrace to sit in and have an inexpensive drink, while enjoying the atmosphere and elegance of this stunning building.
If you walk around the galleries, the central dome has a stunning mosaic that represents the continents of Asia, Africa, Europe and America.
Under the central dome is a mosaic with the Savoy coat of arms and various animals that represent some of Italy’s most important cities. According to a legend, visitors and locals will have good luck if they step with their right foot on the bull and turn 360° with their eyes closed. If you step on the bull on the 31 December at midnight, you will be lucky for a whole year.
All the premises inside the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II are obliged to adopt retro gold lettering on a black background for their business signs, in line with the original design.
This gallery, with its original and visionary steel and glass canopy, was a source of inspiration for many similar constructions, both in Italy (the Galleria Umberto I in Naples) and abroad (the Toronto Eaton Centre and the Houston and Dallas Galleries). It is possible the Eiffel Tower was in part inspired by the materials and design of the Milanese Galleria.
The elegant white spheres that illuminate the Galleria at night still rest on their graceful copper 19th-century posts. When the gallery’s innovative lighting system, originally gas-powered, was introduced, a new specific device was created to ignite the lamps higher up in the vault as well. Every evening the device ran on tracks along the entire length of the gallery carrying the flame that lit each individual lamp.
The Milanese gathered to watch, fascinated by this display of modernity: the machine darted so quickly that it was immediately nicknamed "rattìn" (Milanese for mouse) because it ran as fast as a little mouse.
*All images have been exclusively taken for The London Man Blog at the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan