Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
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 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. Below the dome is the centre mosaic shield[Cite] of the mall, and to the west of the design is a tradition that suggests that you have a spin with your right heel on the mosaic bulls “attributes”, one of the 102 glass designs 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.
Shops, restaurants and hotels
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.