Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Milan: World’s Oldest Shopping Mall

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Milan: World’s Oldest Shopping Mall

The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milano is one of the oldest shopping malls in the world and even today, you can see a good crowd of people shopping here. Every minute aspect of this behemoth construction pays homage to specific events in Italy’s history. If you have ever visited Milan, then you would have definitely visited this magnificent place on your private Italy tour.

What to know about Galleria Vittorio Emanuele ii- The oldest shopping mall in the world

For those who have never visited this place, here are some interesting facts that should entice you to put Milan on your next vacation plan.

● The Galleria gets its name from Vittorio Emanuele II, the first king of the Kingdom of Italy.

● Even today, the architectural brilliance of this place never fails to amaze people despite the fact that its designs were prepared way back in 1861 by Giuseppe Mengoni. The entire place was constructed between 1865 and 1877.

● The Galleria is a direct progenitor of the modern enclosed and glazed malls. The mere construction and designing of this magnificent place was an important step in the evolution of architecture during that era.

● There is a peculiar practice, often considered to be a tradition, in this place where kissing the genitals of the bull depicted from the Turin Coat of Arms and yelling “HUMMA KAVULA” is said to bring luck to the person. Whether or not this brings luck is still unclear, but it has caused damage to the mosaic creation because a hole has developed in the area where people kiss the mosaic. Good Luck? For the people it may be, but it is definitely not bringing any luck to the bull in the coat of arms.

● The Galleria is considered to be a living symbol of Italian unity as it was built during the period of Italian unification which was characterized by a lot of trauma and suffering. However, unification managed to bring together all of Italy and laid the foundation of its future progress.

● Did you know that the mosaics depict Italian cities? The wolf represents Rome, the lily is indicative of Florence, the bull symbolizes Turin and a white flag with red cross is a representation of Milan.

● The 4 symbols in every part of the floor represent the capitals of the Kingdom of Italy. It is interesting to note that the depictions indicate the capitals in different historical periods of Italy.

There are shops which are as old as the mall itself, that makes them more interesting than, what they are selling and the fact that they are housed in the oldest mall of the world.

List of Shops in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele

Café Restorante Biffi 

It is one such age old café that was founded on the same day of the year 1867 on which Galleria was inaugurated. The café is located in the south wing of the Galleria and is in the direction of Piazza del Duomo. The owner from whom it gets its name- Paolo Biffi, was a pastry chef of the Monarch of Italy back in those days.

Ristorante Savini

It is another oldest restaurant of the Galleria was established in subsequent year of founding- 1868. The space didn’t have the name Savini from the beginning, it was a café in 1868 and changed into a beerhouse in 1876 which was rechristened as Birreria Stocker. 8 years later in 1884, the ownership once again changed and this time went into the hands of Virgilio Savini. Savini however had to sell the place again in 1906 to one Giuseppa Bodina. Bodina changes the whole furnishing of the place. The place although couldn’t survive much to the war and took 7 years to get restored completely. In the year 1950, on the 26th day of December, the café was reopened with same furnishings and décor which it had once and became a regular visiting spot for Charlie Chaplin, Grace Kelly, Luchino Visconti and many other popular names of the era.


It was probably destined to come to Galleria and not to be written off in history. Gaspare Campari, a novice distiller bought a café in Novara in the year 1860. Gaspare made his first liquor products in Novara, but due to the sluggishness in business and not finding growth prospects, he decides to move to Milan. He established a spirit shop in a building called Coperto dei Figini. Coperto dei Figini was due to be demolished and knowing that Gaspare secured a shop in the Galleria. Moving to Galleria, while his wife ran the shop, Gaspare committed himself completely into making distillery products, and created the famous Italian liquor- Campari. In the year 1882, Gaspare passed away and his children bequeathed the legacy of Campari. In the years to come his 2 sons Davide and Guido took business further with creating Cordial Campari. Since then there was no looking back. In 1919, Davide sold the shop to Zucca label.

Just like every road leads to Rome, Prada leads to Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. Mario Prada, the grandfather of the billionaire fashion designer Miuccia Prada started the business in 1913 and opened a shop in Galleria in the very same year. The Prada shop was renovated in the year 2000 and curates most of the original furnishings.

In the year 2012, when the tenancy of Galleria was renewed, McDonald’s was refused for a renewal and it subsequently sued the city of Milan over the denial of tenancy. The suit was for € 24 million. Although the American burger chain found a place nearby the Galleria, but it served more than 5000 customers free food and drink in its last hours of operations. The space is now occupied by a Prada store.

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