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Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II - Ottagono
The Galleria, a place of transit for busy managers or a stop for enchanted and curious tourists, expresses the various faces of the city through its many facets.
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 20th century is synonymous with modernity and progress. It’s an intricate and complex historical period that saw technical accelerations, engineering-industrial products, and, in general, the rise of the work of the human genius.
The great spaces of the Galleria foresaw a reality that has its distinguishing mark in the sense of movement. We can’t forget here, in the artistic field, a masterpiece such as “Riot in the Gallery” (Rissa in Galleria) by Boccioni, that represents reality in an innovative way, projected into a dynamic future. Cars, trams, work in factories: everything was changing the rhythm of the city and the people’s idea on everyday life.
Considered one of the sites of Milanese luxury shopping, along with Via Montenapoleone and Via della Spiga, it hosts many prestigious labels and brand shops, famous cafés and restaurants, as well as Feltrinelli Records, one of the largest megastores in Italy.
Taking that classic wander through the Galleria, the very heart of the city, as visitors have done for many years, still creates that wonderful sensation. Entering the Galleria, the corridor between Duomo and La Scala Theatre, its magnificent arch welcomes you and hints at the Milanese spectacle that lies within. The original idea of the designers was to create a porticoed street that would function as a showcase and offer somewhere to take a pleasant stroll, enjoy an aperitif or have dinner after the opera.
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.
If you wish to return to Milan, the tradition suggests that you have a spin with your heel on the mosaic bulls “attributes” that make up the pavement of the Galleria’s splendid central octagon. Once a gesture to ward off evil, it has become part of the Milanese tradition and has such a following that a deep hole has formed in the pavement.
You will surely enjoy visiting the Galleria, it will also feel like turning the clock back in time: for the construction, which started in 1865 (by Giuseppe Mengoni) were used mainly iron and glass as for the Parisian train stations, a well-advanced technique in those days.
On occasion, the Galleria also offers shelter to its guests from sudden rain or from the hot sun, welcoming them in its extraordinary and elegant atmosphere.
The eclectic style of the Galleria, with its grotesque, caryatid, half-moons and pilasters, typical of the second half of the 1800s in Milan.
The art bookshop Libreria Bocca, in the Galleria since 1930, already present in the city back in the 1800s.
The coffee and aperitif at Camparino in the Galleria, which is still today a stunning meeting place.
The walkways on the roof of the Galleria from Piazza Duomo to Piazza della Scala. The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is 196 meters long and 14.5 wide and the passage around the rooftops circles the summit for 250 linear meters, making it possible to observe the view in complete safety. Access is via two fast elevators located inside the courtyard of Via Silvio Pellico 2.
The antique Milanese tradition included the custom of rubbing your foot on the pavement over the coat of arms that represents the city of Turin, on the left-hand side of the octagon. It was said to ward off evil.
Inside the Galleria, all the commercial activities must display an insignia with gold writing on a black background.
The structure of the Galleria is 32 metres high, comprises 353 tonnes of iron utilised for the skeleton of the cover, and its octagonal-shaped roof reaches a height of 47 metres.
With a keen eye, it is possible to spot what remains of the original illumination installation. There are white spheres are on an elegant mounting in copper, which were once fed by gas
It is possible to reach the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele using the M1/M3 and getting off at the Duomo stop.