Milan is known as one of the world’s fashion capital. It is where some of the Italian designer brand flagship stores located and home of the world’s oldest shopping mall –The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele.
The Galleria was named after Vittorio Emanuele II, the first king of the Kingdom of Italy who ruled from 1861 to 1878. The entire shopping center was constructed between 1865 and 1877.
I was amazed by the massive four-story architecture. The arcade is covered of incredible arches made of glass and iron ceiling that connects Piazza Duomo to the south and Piazza Della Scala to the north. Piazza is an Italian word for a public square.
With the luxurious designer shops, restaurants and cafés such as the Caffè Campari and Caffè Biffi (one of the oldest and still open today), it became a meeting place and the Galleria gains its nickname locally known as ‘il salotto buono’, or “the fine living room” of Milan.
The first time I visit here, I catch up with a friend that I’ve never seen for years. She traveled from Bologna to Milan just to see me. As we step inside the Galleria, I noticed that all the stores have a gold colored sign on a black background. It’s probably one of the management requirements. Each store also has its own unique decorating style like the golden hanging tree.
The floor made of enamel tiles leads the visitors toward the octagon shape in the center. The octagon is consist of mosaics that portrays the coat of arms of Italy and England where the original company who financed the Galleria’s construction was based and the allegorical representations of the major Italian cities:
- the Roman wolf for Rome
- the red lily for Florence
- The white flag with a red for Milan
- and the most interesting part, the dancing bull of Turin.
As we getting close in the middle, I was curious why a lot of people forming a circle with their cameras pointing on the floor. She then told me that it’s a queue of tourists waiting for their turn to squeeze the bull’s balls for good luck! (LOL). I never knew about this fascinating mosaic bull thing till I actually went there.
Since she didn’t specify that it’s a mosaic representation of Torino’s bull, my reaction was like “there’s a bull in this mall??” and we were both laughing knowing she was just joking.
I’m not a superstitious person but I’m always curious about how the traditional beliefs like this started. So after strolling around Vittorio, we stopped at Gucci cafe, one of the cafes just near the mosaic bull where we can see the people and for a bull storytelling time.
Local tradition believes that spinning three times backward using your right heel over the bull’s genitals with your eyes closed will bring you good luck.
The weird superstition begins after the Galleria’s Italian architect, Giuseppe Mengoni fall to his death from the scaffolding few weeks before the project was completed. So, to avoid similar bad luck the Milanese, as well as the tourists, head to the mosaic of the dancing bull to mark the spot where he fell.
This practice has led to damage to the bull’s genital. A hole has formed showing where the bull receives his daily punishment. However, the bull still attracts curious and superstitious people.
Turin or Torino was one of the most prominent Italian cities and a historical rival to Milan. Torino literally means a “young bull”, and obviously the reason why it’s a symbol of the city.
Did I receive good luck? I probably did.
However, this is just a superstition.
The best way to our good luck is to create and achieve them!