The Galleria Vittoria Emanuele, named after the first king of Italy, was designed in 1861 by Giuseppe Mengoni and officially opened in 1867 – making it one of the world’s oldest shopping malls. It’s often nicknamed 'il salotto di Milano' (Milan’s drawing room) after the building soon became the favoured meeting place in Milan. This elegant four-storey arcade connects Piazza del Duomo with Piazza della Scala, and has become a tourist attraction in its own right.
The galleria is what people imagine when daydreaming about shopping in Milan, with endless designer stores like Gucci, Prada, Louis Vuitton and Versace (to name a few) attracting the city’s elite. If your budget won’t stretch to haute couture you’ll still have a pleasant afternoon window shopping, people watching and admiring the beautiful frescoes. The ceiling vaults are decorated with mosaics representing Asia, Africa, Europe and America. While underneath the central glass dome, four mosaics portray the coat of arms of Milan, Rome, Florence and Turin – the latter bearing a bull where tradition states those who spin on their heel three times on the bull’s testicles will have good luck. It’s a long-standing, although slightly strange, tradition that has unfortunately resulted in a hole appearing in the mosaic.