We added Milan to our itinerary, but only as a brief stop on the way to Tuscany last Saturday. Chris found a subway station in the outskirts of Milan (Molino Dorino) with a park and ride garage where we could leave the car for only a euro a day. Driving and parking in the city would have been a nightmare and expensive. We knew it was going to be a tight fit and still arrive on time in Greve, but a short stop is better than none.
We wanted to see the Piazza del Duomo (“Cathedral Square”), the main piazza (city square) of Milan and the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, one of the world’s oldest shopping malls. Our subway stop dropped us in the piazza. Coming from the underground stop to the huge, open square square filled with people, in the shadow of the the Duomo and surrounded by some of the most historic buildings in the city was worth the extra time out of our schedule. What immediately struck me was that even with size of the space and number of people, the piazza sounded like being in a room.
The piazza marks the center of the city, geographically and because of its importance from an artistic, cultural, and socially. It’s about 183,000 sq ft and is dominated by the Duomo. The piazza was built in 1862 following a design competition, and following the final completion of the Duomo – after 500 years of construction.
Housed within a four-story double arcade with a huge arch entrance, the Galleria is named after Vittorio Emanuele II, the first king of the Kingdom of Italy. It was built between 1865 and 1877 and can hardly be called a mall by current standards. Constructed of steel and glass, with beautiful mosaic tiled floors, statues and murals, it’s often called Milan’s living room.
Upscale stores, cafés and restaurants and restaurants fill the Galleria. If a Mercedes or Louis Vuitton bag are on your list you’ve come to the right place. We found it a great place for a gelato break.