Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

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Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II (Milan) E1.jpg
Location Milan, Italy
Coordinates 45°27′56″N 9°11′24″E / 45.46556°N 9.19000°E / 45.46556; 9.19000Coordinates: 45°27′56″N 9°11′24″E / 45.46556°N 9.19000°E / 45.46556; 9.19000
Opening date 1877
Owner Comune of Milan
Architect Giuseppe Mengoni
Public transit access Logo Metropolitane Italia.svg Milano linea M1.svg Milano linea M3.svg Duomo

The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II (Italian: [ɡalleˈriːa vitˈtɔːrjo emanuˈɛːle seˈkondo]) is one of the world's oldest shopping malls. Housed within a four-story double arcade in central Milan,[1] the Galleria is named after Victor Emmanuel II, the first king of the Kingdom of Italy. It was designed in 1861 and built by Giuseppe Mengoni between 1865 and 1877.


The building under construction

The structure consists of 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 19th-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.[citation needed]

On the ground of the central octagonal, there are 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. This practice causes damage to the mosaic: a hole developed on the place of the bull's genitals.[citation needed]

The Galleria connects two of Milan's most famous landmarks: The Duomo and the Teatro Alla Scala, but the Galleria is a landmark in its own right.

Shops, restaurants and hotels[edit]

Bottom view during Christmas 2009
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II from inside the arcade, c. 1880

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.[2]

As of 2013, the arcade principally contains luxury retailers selling haute couture, jewelry, 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 Biffi Caffè (founded in 1867 by Paolo Biffi, pastry chef to the monarch),[3][4][5] the Savini restaurant and the Art Nouveau classic Camparino in Galleria.

In 2012, a McDonald's restaurant was prevented from renewing its tenancy, after 20 years of occupancy.[6][7] The restaurant contended that it was the only tenant to be denied the right of first refusal on its new lease,[7] and that the public tender to replace it was "unfair".[6][7] McDonald's sued the landlord—the city of Milan—for 24 million in damages,[6][7] alleging that the loss of the lease will deprive McDonald's of €6 million per year in sales.[6] During its last few hours of operation, the restaurant offered free food and drink to over 5000 customers.[6][7] The McDonald's restaurant was replaced with the gallery's second Prada store.[6][7] McDonald's renounced its suit against the City of Milan after receiving the opportunity to open a new restaurant in a nearby area.



  1. ^ "Milan: overview", Insight Guides website, London, England, U.K.: Apa Publications UK, 2012, archived from the original on October 18, 2012, retrieved October 18, 2012, To the north is the entrance to the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, Italy’s oldest and most elegant shopping mall. Its four-storey arcade has many boutiques, bookshops, bars and restaurants. 
  2. ^ Insight Guides (2004) p.220.
  3. ^ ‘Gran Caffè Biffi’, Luigi’s Mailorder.
  4. ^ ‘Il Biffi’, Biffi in Galleria.
  5. ^ ‘I Bar Storici Di Milano’,
  6. ^ a b c d e f Masoni, Danilo (October 16, 2012), Hill, Gary, ed., "McDonald's sues Milan over eviction from Galleria", Reuters website (U.S. ed.), New York, NY, U.S.A.: Reuters, OCLC 557213585, archived from the original on October 18, 2012, retrieved October 18, 2012, McDonald's has sued the city of Milan for 24 million euros in damages over being kicked out of a tourist-packed shopping arcade, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, after the U.S. fastfood chain had rented the space for 20 years. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f Sylvers, Eric (October 16, 2012), "McDonald's sues over Milan eviction", Financial Times website (International ed.), London, England, U.K.: Financial Times Limited, OCLC 60638918, archived from the original on October 18, 2012, retrieved October 18, 2012, After 20 years of serving burgers and chips in Milan’s plush 19th century Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II shopping arcade next to the likes of Louis Vuitton, Prada and Gucci, McDonald’s has been booted out to make way for another Prada store. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Geist, Johann F. (1982), Arcades: The History of a Building Type, MIT Press, ISBN 0-262-07082-0 
  • Insight Guides (2004), Northern Italy, APA Publications, ISBN 981-234-903-0 

External links[edit]