Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Milan (must see)
Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is a fashionable five-storey mall covered in curved glass, topped with iron roof and lavishly decorated with patriotic mosaics and statues - legacy of the chaotic era of Italian unification, manifesting the country's newly-acquired self-confidence. It was built between 1865 and 1877 by architect Giuseppe Mengoni – also credited with the monumental design of the whole area between the Milan Cathedral and La Scala Opera – and is named after Vittorio Emanuele II, the first king of unified Italy. Officially inaugurated on September 15, 1867, the Galleria's completion took another ten years of continuous work. Tragically, just a day before it was complete, in December 1877, Giuseppe Mengoni died in accident, falling down from the top of the triumphal arch. Formed like a Latin cross, the gallery comprises two glass-vaulted covered passages – with a longer one being 196 meters and the shorter - 105.5 meters long – crossing in an octagonal central piazza below an impressive 47 meter high, 36 meter wide glass dome. Incorporating iron and arching glass, the Galleria's architectural design proved ground breaking for the creation of enclosed shopping malls in the 19th century. The use of iron structure inspired the Eiffel Tower in Paris. An interesting feature of the gallery is the floor featuring rare marble mosaic depicting emblems of main Italian cities. Spinning on the picture of the bull with the heel of a right foot is supposed to bring good luck. Milanese duly observe this tradition thanks to which there's now a hole in the pavement.