This is an excerpt from the book “Milan” by Enrico Massetti.
The renowned Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, one of the first buildings in Europe built in glass and iron, was inaugurated in 1867 by King Vittorio Emanuele II himself.
It is called il salotto di Milano because it is the traditional meeting place of the Milanese; indeed it offers a wide range of cafès, restaurants such the traditional restaurant Savini as well as fashion boutiques and the most essential bookshops in the city.
It is on the plan of a Latin cross with an octagonal center, the famous Ottagono regarded by every single Milanese as the heart of the city and is dominated by a central dome expanding into four branches one of which overlooking Piazza Duomo. The main branch connects Piazza Duomo with Piazza Scala and is the preferred promenade for La Scala amateurs who love strolling around with their fashionable evening dresses before enjoying a performance at La Scala Theatre.
Palazzo Reale, a sizeable Neoclassical building which is a result of the original re-elaboration made by architect Piermarini between 1772 and 1778 of a pre-existing palace, was the seat of Spanish governors in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
The original construction was characterized by a court facing the palace which was afterward replaced by a large area by Piermarini, who wanted it to become a vast square.
The square as we can admire it today has preserved the features according to Piermarini’s design.
The bombs of 1943 severely damaged most of the palace, including the splendid Hall of the Caryatids.
Nevertheless, Palazzo Reale is the most important exhibiting space in the city hosting internationally renowned exhibitions of works by outstanding artists such as Monet, Kandinsky, Picasso and presentations on artistic movements which have marked the history of art.
Over the most recent years, reconstruction works have been carried out to reclaim vast and prestigious areas to host more permanent and temporary exhibitions.
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