Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II: Milan’s living room 

One of the most famous and evocative places of the city of Milan 

Among the most famous places in Milan, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is among the most iconic. 

This in fact can be considered as the first shopping center in the world and since its birth is an important meeting place for Milanese citizens. We discover the history of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan and we also know the main curiosities about it. 

The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is known as the “living room” of Milan and is a covered pedestrian street that connects and Piazza della Scala, in the heart of the historic center of the capital of Lombardy. Here there are elegant bars, restaurants and shops that have made since its inception the Gallery the usual meeting place of the Milanese bourgeoisie.

This neo-Renaissance building is the largest example of iron architecture in Europe and represents the archetype of the 19th century commercial gallery.  It is no coincidence that this place is considered as one of the first shopping centers in the world.


Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan: its history 

The history of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele in Milan began in the early 1800s when people began to think about this project, which then saw the light in 1860. In that year the decrees were signed to make construction possible. In 1863 a competition was held for the realization of the gallery won by the architect Giuseppe Mengoni. King Vittorio Emanuele II laid the foundation stone on March 7, 1865. The works will end in 1878.

During World War II the tunnel was bombed hard. The glass cover, part of the metal cover, and many of the decorations inside were destroyed. On the occasion of Expo 2015, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II underwent a major restoration from March 2014 to April 2015.

In this way one of the symbolic places of Milan has returned to its ancient splendor. Thanks to its proximity to the Teatro alla Scala, one of the most famous in the world, the gallery has always been frequented both by those who went to attend the shows but also by actors and aspiring such. From the beginning the cafes and boutiques here were the most sought after and elegant.


The architecture of the Vittorio Emanuele II gallery in Milan 

The architecture of the gallery is undoubtedly one of the most evocative aspects. Its entrance is a triumphal arch that faces majestically next to the Duomo of Milan. The plant has a cross shape and the intersection of the two arms is called octagon and is topped by a beautiful glass dome.

At the top of the walls you can admire four painted lunettes depicting the 4 continents in an allegorical way. the size of the gallery is 196 meters from the Duomo to Piazza della Scala and 105 meters from Via Foscolo to Via Pellico.


The curiosities of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan 

There are many curiosities concerning this symbolic place of Milan. First of all all the shops that face the gallery must have the signs written in gold on a black background.

In addition, one of the most famous attractions of this place in the past was gas lighting of the inner perimeter of the dome. The ignition was entrusted to the Rattin. This was a small, spring-loaded cart that ran on a rail through the entire internal base of the dome, its alcohol flame lit, passing, all the gas candelabra that illuminated the dome. 

If you pass through the Gallery and want to evoke luck you impose the rite of the three laps of the right heel on the attributes of the bull in the mosaic floor of the Gallery. You will recognize it from the group of people ready to pirouette on the brass that protects the small excavation that has been created over the centuries.


That the tradition began because the Milanese could not stand the symbol of Turin in the Gallery or to make sure to return to the rich Milan, doesn’t matter. The luck is blind. 

Copertina: italyguide

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