Milano in June is hot and damp. The city lies under a cloud of orange haze that tells of the industrial power here that drives Italy’s fragile economy. The city could never be described as beautiful and instead has an ancient heart choked by buildings constructed in the 70s and 80s. I have to say that neither decade produced great architecture in Milan. The food in Milan was a disappointment, but we did find several good curry houses – much appreciated by my Indian/Nepalese colleagues.
In the old heart of the city is some great architecture, including the Galleria. Formally known as the ‘Galleria Vittoria Emanuele II‘, the street is covered by an arching glass and cast iron roof. A landmark in its own right, the Galleria is a sight to behold. The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is a double arcade in the centre 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 Galleria is named after Vittorio Emanuele II, the first king of the Kingdom of Italy. It was originally designed in 1861 and built by Giuseppe Mengoni between 1865 and 1877. 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.