Sip a coffee if you wish, but avoid eating in the Galleria — it is overpriced and not the quality you would expect. Try the outstanding nearby Pizzeria Lievito Madre instead.
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is one of the world’s oldest shopping malls, alongside such illustrious company as the Burlington Arcade in London and the Passazh in St Petersburg. Named after Vittorio Emanuele II, the first king of the Kingdom of Italy, it was finished in 1877 and has been a hub of Milan ever since.
The Galleria is often referred to as ‘Milan’s drawing room’ due its importance as a meeting and dining place for locals. It is home to some of the most famous restaurants and cafes in Milan, including Biffi Caffè, which was founded in 1867 by Paolo Biffi, the king’s own pastry chef.
Its design consists of two glass-vaulted arcades which intersect in a wide octagon, always full of milling shoppers. Overhead a giant glass dome allows the light to spill in, illuminating four mosaics on the ground, representing the coats of arms of the three capitals of the Kingdom of Italy - Turin, Florence and Rome - alongside that of Milan.
A Peculiar Tradition
Legend has it if a person spins around three times with a heel on the testicles of the bull from the Turin coat of arms, it will bring good luck — they say the same thing about touching the testicles of Wall Street’s Charging Bull as well. Perhaps Milan’s tradition inspired New York’s, or perhaps humans simply have some innate propensity for this sort of thing.
Giving the V to M
McDonald’s had a branch in the Galleria for 20 years — until 2012, when it was prevented from renewing its tenancy. The fast-food giant subsequently tried to sue the landlord - that is, the city of Milan - on the grounds that it was being discriminated against and denied sales. It was replaced by a Prada store — the Galleria’s second.
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