About Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
The sophisticated nineteenth-century shopping arcade Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is situated in the heart of Milan, the global hub of fashion. The building is named after the first King on the Kingdom of Italy, King Vittorio Emanuele II, who is believed to have laid the foundation stone of the building. The massive Galleria makes for a stunning sight, and its enormous dimensions have made it an overnight sensation ever since it was opened to the people of Milan.
Affectionately nicknamed as the “il salotto di Milano” – the drawing room of Milan, it is an enchanting edifice constructed in the 1860s. The elite in Milan has been frequenting this precinct since its inauguration, not just for shopping but for socializing as well.
This prestigious luxury-shopping destination hosts emporiums of premium brands, multinational labels, and chic eateries for the gastronomes. This is surely the place to visit if you want to witness high-street fashion and enjoy a coffee or an aperitif at the gourmet restaurants. The Galleria is housed inside a neoclassical precinct that is four-story-high.
Replete with polished marble floors, a gleaming glass-domed ceiling, and brilliant mosaics, its many facets capture the essence of Milan perfectly. The iron and glass construction here presents an extraordinary ambiance to the onlooker and strolling down the portico is like going back in time. So when in Milan, this place is a must-visit, if not for the luxury-shopping, then to appreciate its belle époque splendor.
How to Reach Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
You can reach the Galleria from the nearest airport, the Milan Linate, by bus, taxi, tram or car.
1. Bus: This is the most cost-effective way to reach the Gallery from the airport. The Line 73 bus takes around 37 minutes for the commute. The bus departs from the airport every 15 minutes.
2. Taxi: This is the fastest means of transport between the airport and the Gallery. It takes around 8 minutes, but it is the costliest as well.
3. Tram: One can take a bus from the airport that departs every 15 minutes and get down at Forlanini and then proceed via tram to P. za Fontana. Trams also leave every 15 minutes. The commute takes around 28 minutes. From Fontana, the Gallery is a short 6 minutes’ walk.
4. Car: One can also hire a car from the airport to the Gallery. The time taken is roughly 8 minutes.
Best Time to Visit Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
The covered shopping arcade is a year-round destination be it rain or shine.
1. Spring (April – May): This is the best time to visit Milan before it gets overcrowded in summer. These months are pleasant with balmy days and chilly evenings and are great for shopping comfortably.
2. Summer (June – August): The peak tourist season experiences sweltering heat. It is thus the ideal time for indoor shopping. Also, the men’s fashion week commences in June.
3. Fall (September – October): With the temperature lowering, the climate is clear. The high chances of precipitation offer the perfect excuse to shop at the Galleria. Also, Women’s Fashion Week occurs in September.
4. Winter (November – March): Travel to Milan during winter if you wish to revamp your wardrobe with the latest style offerings in the Fashion Weeks in January and February. Stores offer substantial discounts on the preceding year’s collections. Cocooned inside a heavy winter coat, escape the wet days of winter in Milan with a cup of coffee in an upscale café at the Galleria.
What Not to Miss at Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
1. Seek good luck: There is a bull on the coat of arms of Turin, depicted on a mosaic on the Gallery’s floor. One of the popular customs for visitors to the Galleria is to spin thrice counterclockwise with the heel firmly in place on the testicles of the bull.
The origin of this tradition lies in a game of mockery played by the people of Milan against their rivals from Turin. At present, this gesture signifies the promise on the part of tourists revisiting Milan.
2. Marvel at the architecture: The elegant style, stunning mosaic art, and awe-inspiring architecture of the Galleria draw tourists from all corners of the world, even those who are not keen on shopping. You can spot the remnants of the original illumination installations to date.
3. Enjoy an aperitif: While at the Galleria, do not miss the opportunity to enjoy the famous Italian aperitivo. Sip an iconic Campari and soda and nibble on some appetizing snacks at the Bar Camparino, watching the throng of tourists and enjoying the ambiance.
4. Visit the Libreria Bocca: The quaint, historic art bookshop, has been making its presence felt in the Galleria since 1930. It features a retail section and publishes newspapers and books along with sponsoring cultural events like book presentations and art exhibitions.
5. Walk on the rooftop: The novel Highline walkway stretches a magnum 820 feet on the top of the Galleria’s roof and offers a fantastic view. Elevators housed within the courtyard at Via Silvio Pellico provide access to this rooftop walk.
6. Shop for touring heart’s content: The Mecca of retail, the primary draw of the Galleria is the luxury shopping it offers to its visitors. High-end designer outlets and an abundance of the leading fashion houses dazzling its hallowed precincts, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is the perfect place for retail therapy.
Other Essential Information About Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
1. Location: The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is located at Piazza Duomo between the two principal monuments of Milan, the magnificent cathedral Duomo and the historic opera house Teatro Alla Scala.
2. Opening Hours: It is open 24 hours throughout the week. The rooftop walk Highline Galleria is open between 12:30 pm to 3 pm, and 5 pm to 8 pm from Monday to Friday. On the weekends, it is open from 12 noon to 9 pm.
3. Entry Fee: Entry to the shopping mall is free. Tickets to the Highline Galleria cost €12. It is €9.60 for those who are below 25 or over 65 years of age. Entry for children under the age of 14 is free.
4. Distance from Nearest Airport: 9.6 km
History of Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
The government of Milan organized a competition in 1860 for upgrading the quarter between Duomo Cathedral and La Scala Opera House. Three contests were arranged consecutively, and finally, in 1863, the pragmatic and graceful design by the Bolognese architect Giuseppe Mengoni won. Mengoni had minutely studied the leading shopping centers in Paris.
Based on that, he created the blueprint for a gigantic glass-vaulted arcade to connect the Piazza del Duomo with the Piazza del la Scala. On March 7, 1865, the King laid the foundation stone, a granite rock, that later became the octagon of the Galleria. With the involvement of over a thousand masons, glassblowers and blacksmiths, the project was completed within 2 years.
The Galleria was officially declared open on September 15 in 1867. However, the imposing archway at the entrance was completed in December 1877.Unfortunately, a sad event marked the inauguration of the triumphal arch. The lifeless body of the designer Giuseppe Mengoni was found inside. Speculations were rife about the cause of the sudden death.
Some believe he fell from the scaffold, while others consider it an act of suicide.Radical student demonstrations, debates, rallies, and collision with the authorities blemished the Galleria’s complexion in the 1960s. Nevertheless, like a phoenix, the Galleria reinvented itself, and today it serves as a vibrant tourist destination pulsating with life.
The Architecture of Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
The grandiose scale and audacious dome of the Galleria make it stand miles apart from similar arcades world-over. The walkways here are structured like the Latin cross. The longer alley measures 196 meters in length and the shorter one is 105.5 meters long. The roof comprises four-barrel vaults.
The two passages converge at an octagon-shaped central piazza beneath a marvelous glass dome, which is 47 meters in height and 36 meters in width. A lantern is placed atop every roof part. The Galleria was built in a turbulent era when the unification of Italy was in progress. It was the symbol of unity and Italian poise for its architect Giuseppe Mengoni, and he decorated his dream project with a plethora of patriotic symbols.
There are also statues on the facades to commemorate Italian scientists and artists. There are four lunettes below the central dome featuring mosaics that stand for the four continents, America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. Below the dome, mosaics represent the coats of arms of Milan, Rome, Florence, and Turin.
A monumental triumphal arch marks the entrance to the Galleria from the Piazza del Duomo. The eclectic architecture of the Galleria, with its pilasters and caryatids, perfectly represent the latter decades of the 19th century Milan.
Shops, Restaurants and Hotels in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
1. Biffi Caffe: As old as the Galleria itself, Paolo Biffi, the chef to the sovereign, had founded this ancient restaurant in 1867.
2. Prada: History was created in 1913 inside the Gallery with the birth of Prada as a luggage shop, then known as Fratelli Prada. The Galleria still houses the original outlet that highlights the signature green interiors and monochrome flooring of this brand.
3. McDonald’s: Ornately decorated with black columns and gold insignia to unify with the style of the Galleria, this popular fast food joint offers a comfortable terrace. Exhausted travelers can rest awhile, soaking up the stunning atmosphere.
4. Savini: Another establishment that is of the same age as the Galleria, the Savini restaurant’s Milanese risotto allo zafferano or saffron risotto, is famous worldwide.
5. Louis Vuitton: Set in a prominent position in the arcade, the spectacular boutique offers personalized services and a host of other options for utmost customer satisfaction.
6. Borsalino: One of the ten single-brand outlets in the country, the store of Borsalino, offers the perfect souvenir for your Milan trip in the form of graceful, handcrafted hats. Borsalino has been setting the benchmarks of eternal style since 1857. Add the brand’s classic felt fedora to your collection while you visit the Galleria.
7. Bar Camparino: Situated at a coveted spot that overlooks the celebrated cathedral, this enterprise is renowned for keeping alive the Italian ritual of aperitivo. Set up as far back as 1897 by the liquor baron Gaspare Campari, the name of the bar was changed in 1980.
8. Pasticceria Marchesi: The chic interiors of this café make it much valued among admirers of interior designs. Floral wallpapers, the brand’s signature green marble walls, and green velvet armchairs call to mind the Via Montenapoleone address of this unique brand.
9. Versace: The fruit of collaboration between Donatella Versace and celebrated architect Jamie Fobert, this spectacular boutique presents a stunning architecture. The shoppers are lured by the newest collections of the illustrious brand at this store.
Places to Stay near Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
1. Armani Hotel Milano: Located only 0.6 km away from the Gallery, this chic hotel was established in an elegant building from the 1930s. The rooms are equipped with iPads that let the guests automatically control the air conditioning and the lights.
The devices help them access the TV and the internet and also lets them make a reservation at the in-house restaurant or bar. Every need of the travelers is met to make their stay comfortable. After an exhausting day of shopping, guests can also unwind at the in-house sauna or Turkish spa.
2. Park Hyatt Milano: This opulent establishment is situated just opposite the Gallery entrance. The rooms are spacious and luxuriant, and some offer a private terrace with breathtaking views of the city’s skyline.
3. Grand Hotel et de Milan: Situated just half a kilometer away from the Galleria, the Grand Hotel et de Milan has rooms tastefully furnished with 18th-century furniture. This historic accommodation is renowned as the home to the composer Giuseppe Verdi for 27 years.