Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

One hall of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
One hall of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is central Milan’s main shopping mall. However, if your idea of a mall is a wide, boring, perfectly air-conditioned hallway or hallways lined with a large collection of workaday stores, most of which are identical to the stores you can find in pretty well every other mall, wipe that picture out of your mind. The Galleria in Milan is nothing like that.

If you’ve been to Milan, you’ve probably been to the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. it’s a major tourist attraction. What’s more, it’s right across from the Duomo, which is arguably the city’s premier tourist attraction.

Even if you’ve never been to Milan you’ve probably seen pictures of the Galleria. It’s world-class iconic.

The Galleria consist of two perpendicular pedestrian walkways. The buildings framing the walkways are four stories high. There are stores at the ground level and, in some cases, the second level as well. As best I could tell, the upper levels contain offices. The whole thing is covered by majestically curved glass roofs. The ends of the walkways are open to the elements.

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II: Not for the faint of wallet.

If you plan to shop at the Galleria Vittorio Emanuelle and you’re not among the top 0.1 percent of the world’s population as measured by income and assets, be very, very careful. Your credit card might spontaneously burst into flames and melt.

The other hall of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II
The other hall of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

The stores there are generally quite high-end. For example, at the point where the two walkways intersect, there are four storefronts angled at 45 degrees to the hallways. Of the four stores behind those storefronts, not one, but two were Prada. They faced each other kitty-corner. The other two stores were Versace and Louis Vuitton. For the most part, the other stores in the Galleria primarily catered to people in the same general snack bracket.

Speaking of snack brackets, the Galleria has a few restaurants/bars. Word of advice: check the menu and read the prices before ordering. You’ve been warned. I wasn’t.

I strolled through the Galleria after a visit to its next-door neighbour, the Duomo. The visit to the Duomo included a strenuous (strenuous for me) climb to its rooftop terraces. This was on the last day of a two-week trip to Italy. I thus felt that I deserved to treat myself to a relaxing session of people-watching while sipping a small glass of Prosecco at a bar with tables out on one of the mall’s walkways. And then a second small glass.

Not having checked the menu first, it wasn’t until I got the bill that I found out that one small glass of Prosecco cost 13 euros at that establishment.

Although, I’m not being entirely fair to the bar. I should mention that it did provide free potato chips and olives with my Prosecco. And, of course, as part of the package, I was also able to take advantage of free people-watching and a view of the Louis Vuitton store. So there was that. Nevertheless, If I make too many more choices like that I won’t be able to afford to visit very many more places in the years to come.

Sigh. Money might not be everything, but it’s definitely something. If there are any incredibly rich, vivacious, voluptuous, young women out there who would be interested in picking up the full tab for traveling the world with a short, dumpy, neurotic, 63-year-old male travel companion, call me.

What the hell? I’d even be willing to sleep with you if that’s what it takes. That’s just the sort of generous guy I am.

Been there? Done that? Do tell.