Italy, Milano

The very first thing to do once landed into Milano is debate whether to shop or to take an aperitif, both pursuits being perfectly aligned to the sensibilities of the stylish northern Italians. And when in Milano, there is foolishness in contesting the local diversions…

Milano, Lombardy, Italy: Northern Autumn 2013

Lunching at Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II Milano, Lombardy, Italy: Northern Autumn 2013

Nourishment first, of course. And once satisfied with the local delicacies (wine, bread, supa, polenta etc.), its time to take in the magnificence of the Duomo di Milano, Milan’s Gothic cathedral dedicated to Santa Maria Nascente, and built from 1386. The entire building is made from pink-hued white marble quarried from Candoglia, Lake Maggiore.

Gian Galeazzo Visconti, the Duke of Milan, gave permission for this strong, beautiful marble to be used free of charge by the Veneranda Fabbrica del Duomo, the cathedral building committee which was set up to supervise the ambitious plan to build a cathedral in Milan to rival the major cathedrals north of the Alps. And look what they achieved…

Milano Como 037a

Duomo di Milano – Milano, Lombardy, Italy: Northern Autumn 2013

With our soul infused with the Lord, its time to get serious: shopping. The Milanese, truth be told, have an edge over other Italians in the fashion stakes. Furry heeled boots, puffy jackets, leather pants, scarves and gloved hands is all I see. Elegant ladies with well maintained hairstyles and amazing handbags walk erect in small groups through the shopping streets. All the young ladies are slim and chic and dress contemporary while moving about skillfully on their high heels. Cobbled streets are no impediment.

Shopping in Milano's Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

Shopping in Milano’s Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

Its within the luxurious Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II – possibly the oldest shopping mall in the world – that my head spins for the fashion plates on display. All I see about me is haute couture, jewelry, books and paintings, as well as restaurants, cafes and bars. My Milanese-based friend Kathy, and I, settle into the comfortable wicker chairs of Biffi Caffè (founded in 1867 by Paolo Biffi, pastry chef to the monarch), vino in hand, to watch the world go by. Above us the extraordinary glass vaulted dome…

Stained glass roof of Milano's Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

Stained glass roof of Milano’s Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

Housed within a four-story double arcade this shopping mall it is named after Vittorio Emanuele II, the first king of the Kingdom of Italy. It was designed and built by Giuseppe Mengoni between 1861 and 1877. Glass-vaulted arcades intersecting in an octagonal covering the street connecting Piazza del Duomo to Piazza della Scala, and the entire street is covered by an arching glass and cast iron roof…

Milano's Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II featuring the sculpture of Pegasus, the Winged Horse of Hermes

Milano’s Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II featuring the sculpture of Pegasus, the Winged Horse of Hermes

The most breathtaking sculpture lays inside: it is Pegasus, the winged horse of Hermes, son of Zeus and Olympian god who moves freely between the worlds of the mortal and divine. Sculptor Christian Renonciats’ rendition of mechanical Pegasus pays homage to Leonardo Da Vinci and was erected at the Octagon of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II to celebrate the October 15, 2013 opening of the new Hermes boutique. This fashion house has been around now for 150 years.

As for me, I’ll stick around Milano for a wee bit longer. My hope is that some of this style will stick on me. As for now, pass me the vino…

 

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