Connecting two of Milan’s most famous locations – the Duomo and La Scala opera house – Milan’s Galleria is a destination in its own right. The Galleria, or to give it its full name – the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II – dates back to 1861, when it was first designed. It took 12 years to build and was completed in 1877. It’s a four story double arcade that takes its name from the first King of Italy.
The Galleria, Milan is a visually stunning structure – which is just one of the reasons to visit it. Made up of two glass-vaulted arcades intersecting in an octagon, the arcade has two entrances – both equally grand archways at the Piazza del Duomo and Piazza della Scala. The Duomo is Milan’s cathedral – a beautiful gothic building that was 600 years in the making, and La Scala opera house – the spiritual home of opera.
The Galleria Vittorio’s grand shops, bars and restaurants are a match for its stunning architecture and together are the answer to the question of ‘where to shop in Milan?’! Here you can browse couture fashion and jewellery, art and literature amongst family owned boutiques and designer stores. Prada, Gucci and Louis Vuitton all have a presence here. It’s also home to some of the oldest bars and restaurants in Milan – including the Biffi Café – which was founded in 1867.The Galleria’s floors are mosaic marble and in the central mosaic, there is a depiction of the four coats of arms of old kingdoms that make up present day Italy – namely, Milan, Florence, Rome and Turin. In the Turin coat of arms there is a bull and according to tradition, it is good fortune if one places their right heel on the bull’s genitals and turns around three times. It’s a piece of folklore that is clearly adhered to, as there is now a huge hole in the mosaic!