Most visitors to Milan gravitate to the Doumo and why not, it is very impressive and the fifth largest cathedral in the world. Standing nearby is the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II which is considered one of the world’s first shopping malls and now populated by some of the most luxurious brands and restaurants.
The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is named after Victor Emmanuel II, the first king of the Kingdom of Italy and was built by architect Giuseppe Mengoni between 1865 and 1867.
Unfortunately Giuseppe Mengoni fell to his death from the heights of the glass dome, just days before it was to be officially opened.
The Galleria is often nicknamed ‘Milan’s drawing room’ due to its importance as a Milanese meeting and dining place. The popular Biffi Caffè, the Motta restaurant and the Camparino are just some of the old traditional meeting places.
The building is a remarkable structure and is considered the prototype for large shopping arcades or Galleria all over Europe. The central octagonal space is topped with a glass dome which lights up the ground below which has four mosaics portraying the coat of arms of the three capitals of the Kingdom of Italy (Turin, Florence and Rome) plus Milan’s.
Tradition says that if a person spins around three times with a heel on the testicles of the bull from Turin coat of arms this will bring good luck.
We watched a married couple and entourage including photographer crowding around one of the mosaics in the centre of the Galleria. The groom and bride then spun around to the applause of the wedding party and watching tourists.
Of course, Mrs Nice had to have a go and managed a couple of turns before nearly falling over. I began to laugh until she came over and said ‘be careful or I will be stamping on your testicles’.
The Galleria is generally very busy because it connects Piazza del Duomo to Piazza della Scala and is great for people watching. Just before we moved on, a demonstration with flags and brass band marched through the Galleria to the bemusement of thousands of tourists.
Old Fogies Travels are the adventures of two elderly Londoners (The Old Fogies) as they explore their home town and travel around the world looking out for the strange, unusual and absurd.
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