A chill February wind from the Alps shuffles me from the open piazza in front of the Duomo di Milano into the relative warmth of the corridors that make up the famous Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. The oldest active shopping mall in the world, this galleria in Milan was completed in 1877. It is an architectural marvel, with two giant glass-vaulted arcades over the streets connecting Piazza del Duomo and Piazza della Scala that intersect in an octagonal central dome. The glass-and-iron roof is a distinctive 19th century design.
I join the flow of locals and tourists wandering aimlessly amongst the artistically modern window displays of luxury brands like Gucci, Prada and Louis Vuitton that vie for attention alongside 150-year old stuccos, friezes, columns and a sigh-worthy mosaic floor.
I see a river of people pooled around a curious sight on the mosaic floor. I peer into the crowds, looking through slits and gaps between arms, waists and handbags to see the figure of a rampaging bull in beige-on-blue mosaic. Odder still, I see visitors join a queue for the chance to go up to the mosaic and “crush” its testicles by standing on them, and rotating thrice at the spot.Continue reading “Milan and Turin: A tale of two cities”