It is difficult to rival the Italians when it comes to architecture as an art form. Consider the awe-inspiring Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, in Milan, Italy. It is a magnificent structure built with dramatically arching panes of glass, intricate cast iron latticework, and an interior filled with paintings, mosaics, and countless other elements of architectural and artistic style.
It was designed by Giuseppe Mengoni in 1861, and it was built between the years 1865 and 1877, also by him. The building was named after (and financed by) Vittorio Emanuele II, the first King of a newly unified Italy.
Other interesting facts:
1) It was intended to be exactly what it is, a shopping mall. And, over 100 years later, it still is.
2) Whenever you go to a modern shopping mall anywhere in the world and it is called “The Galleria,” it is a reference to this specific structure. (Whether the builders realize it or not.)
3) In an ironic turn of fate, Mengoni died soon after the Galleria’s completion. He fell off the roof of his own creation. (It is 154 feet tall.)
On a lighter note, a few years back I ate a Big Mac there. Madness, I know. A Big Mac in Italy, the land of incredible food. But there was a method to my madness. First, purely for the sake of the sheer juxtaposition of experience, it was novel and fun. Second, I have a healthy appetite, so there was no chance that one burger was going to slow me down. Third, and perhaps most significantly of all, you can’t have a Big Mac there anymore. That’s right, in 2012 the Galleria refused to renew McDonalds’ lease, and after a protracted round of legal jousting it was decided that the fast food giant would never return to the mall. That spot is now occupied by a Prada store. There was, of course, no way for me to foresee this at the time, but it definitely makes me all the more glad that I did it.
I suppose the point is, enjoy the moment. Have fun. A Big Mac is only as mundane as you allow it to be. Engage with the unique texture of wherever you find yourself. To be alive is amazing… savor it.