Posted by: Brad Nixon | August 29, 2016

Milan, Italy: The Great Galleria

The world is full of famous — even legendary — gathering places. Hotels may top the list: the “Round Table” at the Algonquin Hotel in New York City, the bars at the Raffles Hotel in Singapore and the Crillon in Paris, among hundreds of others.  Notable outdoor places figure prominently, too, including the Piazza Navona in Rome.

Piazza Navona Brad Nixon 030 (640x475)

Coffee shops rank high, too, from your neighborhood grindhouse to storied Florian’s on St. Mark’s Square in Venice (it’s on the left, just out of view in the early morning shot below).

St Marks Square Brad Nixon

Let’s face it, though, for millions of people the world over, the place to meet is a shopping mall.

In fact, when the day comes that I need to meet someone for an epochal, life- or world-changing encounter, I know where I want it to occur: a shopping mall. Not an ordinary one with 150 retail stores and 35 restaurants and acres of free parking. No, mi amici, I want to meet that agent from the publisher or the biographer about to pen my life story at The Gallery: the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan.

Milan Galleria Brad Nixon 041 (480x640)

Designed in 1861 and completed in 1877, the Galleria is one of the world’s first malls, and still takes pride of place, heading the list of remarkable, inspiring places to meet, sip, sup or stroll.

Milan Galleria Brad Nixon 042 (479x640)

The Galleria’s neoclassical facade fronts on Piazza del Duomo, one of the world’s great open spaces. In the photo below, it’s on the left, immediately adjacent to the massive Duomo di Milano, Milan Cathedral.

Milan Piazza Brad Nixon 073 (640x480)

(Yes, the lower facade of the Duomo was covered by scaffolding when I was there. One gets accustomed to that fact of life, wherever one travels to see great monuments that are aging and need restoration.)

After you’ve toured the cathedral and, I hope, taken the opportunity to go up on the roof of the structure to view the amazing stonework (as I described HERE), stroll into the Galleria to shop, or simply look around in the light streaming from the skylights.

Milan Galleria Marcy Vincent 043 (640x469)

Milan Galleria Brad Nixon 045 (476x640)

What I recommend most highly is to turn left almost as soon as you enter and find a seat at Caffè Campari. Order an Americano, the drink invented there by Gaspari Campari in the 1860s, if your tastes run to Campari, sweet vermouth and soda. If not, have a coffee (as I will), and do your best to present una bella figura while you wait for the paparazzi to discover you.

The Gallery is cruciform in layout, and the two long arms are actually major thoroughfares for foot traffic. It’s the epitome of beauty and convenience, offering a stimulating, covered route for navigating central Milan. Continuing straight through the Galleria from the Piazza del Duomo puts you into the Piazza della Scala. What’s there? La Teatro della Scala, of course.

Milan La Scala Brad Nixon 2006 046 (640x476)

If you don’t have tickets for a performance, go in and tour the La Scala museum, which includes an opportunity to look through a doorway to see into the glorious old palace of opera.

That’s where you’ll find me waiting for my agent, my soon-to-be publisher, a member of the Nobel Committee, or perhaps that certain brunette. She went there with me once before, and maybe my luck will hold.

It’s evening in Milan. Avanti!

Italy 2006 077 LR (480x640)

© Brad Nixon 2016, 2017. Some photos © Marcy Vincent 2017 used by kind permission.



  1. What a timely post! I just sat down at my fav table at a cafe in the Irvine Spectrum to sip coffee and savor one of The Counselor’s heavenly madeleines when your post appeared on my iPod. Now I have a visual feast to go with the culinary one. Tres Bon!

    Liked by 1 person

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