The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is a double arcade in the center of Milan, Italy. The structure is formed by two glass-vaulted arcades intersecting in an octagon covering the street connecting Piazza del Duomo to Piazza della Scala. The Galleria is named after Vittorio Emanuele II, the first king of the Kingdom of Italy.
It was originally designed in 1861 and built by Giuseppe Mengoni between 1865 and 1877. The street is covered by an arching glass and cast iron roof, a popular design for nineteenth-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), the Passazh 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. The Milanese Galleria was larger in scale than its predecessors and was an important step in the evolution of the modern glazed and enclosed shopping mall, of which it was the direct progenitor.
It has inspired the use of the term galleria for many other shopping arcades and malls. In the central mosaic there is a depiction of the bull from Turin Coat of Arms. The tradition tells that if a person put its right heel on the bull's genitals and turn on himself three times, this will bring good luck. This practice causes damage to the mosaic: a hole developed on the place of the bull's genitals. The Galleria connects two of Milan's most famous landmarks: The Duomo and the Teatro Alla Scala, but the Galleria is a landmark in its own right.
The Galleria is often nicknamed il salotto di Milano (Milan's drawing room), due to its numerous shops and importance as a common Milanese meeting and dining place. More than 130 years after its inauguration, the four-story arcade includes elegant shops selling most things from haute couture and jewelry to books and paintings, as well as restaurants, cafés, and bars. The Galleria is famous for being home to some of the oldest shops and restaurants in Milan, such as the historic Biffi Caffè, founded in 1867 by Pastry Chef to His Majesty Paolo Biffi and (in 1882) the first Milanese café to install electric lighting, the Savini restaurant, the silverware store Bernasconi and the Art Nouveau classic Zucca's Bar. Today, the Galleria is the site for many luxury goods shops, including Prada, Massimo Dutti, Gucci and Louis Vuitton, as well as fast food restaurants such as McDonald's. The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II's first stone Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, centered in its palazzo-like façade Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II: a triumphal arch motif in the Piazza del Duomo entrance A view of the shops and coffehouses in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II Details of the Galleria The glass dome The Galleria's triumphal arch The outside of the gallery, showing a decorated dome, during Christmas time Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II from inside the arcade Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II from TownHouse Hotel Spinning on the Bull