Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II ★★

A 16-picture panorama stitched with Hugin, Miller cylindrical projection, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Milan, Italy (Photo by Romain.pontida)
A 16-picture panorama stitched with Hugin, Miller cylindrical projection

This genteel 19th century shopping center is still the social and shopping hub of Milan

Milan's late-19th-century version of a mall is this wonderful steel-and-glass-covered, cross-shaped arcade some 32m (105 feet) high rising to a 46m (154-foot) dome in the center, all glass held together by 353 tons (389 US tons) of iron.

The elegant Galleria—home to such bouqtiques as Prada, Gucci, and Luis Vuitton (but also, at the crossing, the entrance to an underground Feltrinelli, Italy's excellent bookstore and music chain)—is the prototype of the enclosed shopping malls that were to become the hallmark of 20th-century consumerism.

It's safe to say that none of the imitators have come close to matching the Galleria for style and flair.

The designer of this urban marvel, Giuseppe Mengoni, didn't live to see the Milanese embrace his creation: He tripped and fell from a girder a few days before the Galleria opened in 1878.

His shopping mall par excellence provides a lovely route between the Duomo and La Scala and is a fine locale for watching the flocks of well-dressed Milanese—you'll understand why the Galleria is called Il Salotto di Milano (the drawing room of Milan).

At the central octagon floor mosaic you can indulge in a curious Milnese tradition. At the center of the Coat of Arms of the city of Turin, symbolized by a bull. Milanese wipe their foot (or spin around on their heel) atop the testicles of the bull—well, now he's a steer I guess, since the spot has, sadly, just been worn into a divot in the stone. Why? Depending on whom you ask, it's either to ward off evil or just to tell the Torinese what you think of them.

Photo gallery
  • A 16-picture panorama stitched with Hugin, Miller cylindrical projection, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Italy (Photo by Romain.pontida)
  • , Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Italy (Photo by Wolfgang Weber)
  • The Piazza del Duomo facade, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Italy (Photo by Domenico Lucà)
  • The ceiling, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Italy (Photo by Giudice Monica)
  • Copertura della Galleria, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Italy (Photo by Lucamato)
  • The poor bull at the center of the Coat of Arms of the city of Turin, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Italy (Photo by Rodrigo Pereira da S…)
  • Stomping the bull, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Italy (Photo by Spens03)
  • The galleria from above, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Italy (Photo by Alessandro Franceschi)
  • , Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Italy (Photo by Konstantinos M. Papadakis)
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Useful Italian phrases

Useful Italian for sightseeing

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
Where is?... Dov'é doh-VAY
...the museum il museo eel moo-ZAY-yo
...the church la chiesa lah key-YAY-zah
...the cathedral il duomo [or] la cattedrale eel DUO-mo [or] lah cah-the-DRAH-leh
     
When is it open? Quando é aperto? KWAN-doh ay ah-PAIR-toh
When does it close? Quando si chiude? KWAN-doh see key-YOU-day
Closed day giorno di riposo JOR-no dee ree-PO-zo
Weekdays (Mon-Sat) feriali fair-ee-YA-lee
Sunday & holidays festivi fe-STEE-vee
     
ticket biglietto beel-YET-toh
two adults due adulti DOO-way ah-DOOL-tee
one child un bambino oon bahm-BEE-no
one student uno studente OO-noh stu-DENT-ay
one senior un pensionato oon pen-see-yo-NAH-toh

Basic phrases in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) pro-nun-see-YAY-shun
thank you grazie GRAT-tzee-yay
please per favore pair fa-VOHR-ray
yes si see
no no no
Do you speak English? Parla Inglese? PAR-la een-GLAY-zay
I don't understand Non capisco non ka-PEESK-koh
I'm sorry Mi dispiace mee dees-pee-YAT-chay
How much is it? Quanto costa? KWAN-toh COST-ah
That's too much É troppo ay TROH-po
     
Good day Buon giorno bwohn JOUR-noh
Good evening Buona sera BWOH-nah SAIR-rah
Good night Buona notte BWOH-nah NOTE-tay
Goodbye Arrivederci ah-ree-vah-DAIR-chee
Excuse me (to get attention) Scusi SKOO-zee
Excuse me (to get past someone) Permesso pair-MEH-so
     
Where is? Dov'é doh-VAY
...the bathroom il bagno eel BHAN-yoh
...train station la ferroviaria lah fair-o-vee-YAR-ree-yah
to the right à destra ah DEH-strah
to the left à sinistra ah see-NEEST-trah
straight ahead avanti [or] diritto ah-VAHN-tee [or] dee-REE-toh
information informazione in-for-ma-tzee-OH-nay

Days, months, and other calendar items in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
When is it open? Quando é aperto? KWAN-doh ay ah-PAIR-toh
When does it close? Quando si chiude? KWAN-doh see key-YOU-day
At what time... a che ora a kay O-rah
     
Yesterday ieri ee-YAIR-ee
Today oggi OH-jee
Tomorrow domani doh-MAHN-nee
Day after tomorrow dopo domani DOH-poh doh-MAHN-nee
     
a day un giorno oon je-YOR-no
Monday Lunedí loo-nay-DEE
Tuesday Martedí mar-tay-DEE
Wednesday Mercoledí mair-coh-lay-DEE
Thursday Giovedí jo-vay-DEE
Friday Venerdí ven-nair-DEE
Saturday Sabato SAH-baa-toh
Sunday Domenica doh-MEN-nee-ka
     
Mon-Sat Feriali fair-ee-YAHL-ee
Sun & holidays Festivi feh-STEE-vee
Daily Giornaliere joor-nahl-ee-YAIR-eh
     
a month una mese oon-ah MAY-zay
January gennaio jen-NAI-yo
February febbraio feh-BRI-yo
March marzo MAR-tzoh
April aprile ah-PREEL-ay
May maggio MAH-jee-oh
June giugno JEW-nyoh
July luglio LOO-lyoh
August agosto ah-GO-sto
September settembre set-TEM-bray
October ottobre oh-TOE-bray
November novembre no-VEM-bray
December dicembre de-CHEM-bray

Numbers in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
1 uno OO-no
2 due DOO-way
3 tre tray
4 quattro KWAH-troh
5 cinque CHEEN-kway
6 sei say
7 sette SET-tay
8 otto OH-toh
9 nove NO-vay
10 dieci dee-YAY-chee
11 undici OON-dee-chee
12 dodici DOH-dee-chee
13 tredici TRAY-dee-chee
14 quattordici kwa-TOR-dee-chee
15 quindici KWEEN-dee-chee
16 sedici SAY-dee-chee
17 diciasette dee-chee-ya-SET-tay
18 diciotto dee-CHO-toh
19 diciannove dee-chee-ya-NO-vay
20 venti VENT-tee
21* vent'uno* vent-OO-no
22* venti due* VENT-tee DOO-way
23* venti tre* VENT-tee TRAY
30 trenta TRAYN-tah
40 quaranta kwa-RAHN-tah
50 cinquanta cheen-KWAN-tah
60 sessanta say-SAHN-tah
70 settanta seh-TAHN-tah
80 ottanta oh-TAHN-tah
90 novanta no-VAHN-tah
100 cento CHEN-toh
1,000 mille MEEL-lay
5,000 cinque milla CHEEN-kway MEEL-lah
10,000 dieci milla dee-YAY-chee MEEL-lah


* You can use this formula for all Italian ten-place numbers—so 31 is trent'uno, 32 is trenta due, 33 is trenta tre, etc. Note that—like uno (one), otto (eight) also starts with a vowel—all "-8" numbers are also abbreviated (vent'otto, trent'otto, etc.).