After ten troubled years, the magnificent—although at the time controversial—cast iron and glass construction of the Vittorio Emanuele II gallery, which linked the city’s cathedral to the Scala theatre in Milan, was finally finished on the penultimate day of December 1877. It was to be inaugurated the next day, but the man who designed it, the 48-year-old engineer Giuseppe Mengoni, would not be there. He had fallen to his death the day before from the highest point of the scaffolding whilst making a final inspection of his unique and pharaonic architectural masterpiece. Mystery surrounds the demise of a man who aspired “to surpass all living artists and to reign in posterity alongside Raffaello and Michelangelo”. Many refused to believe it was an accident and thought he may have committed suicide driven by continuing criticism of the structure, or because delays in its completion meant that Mengoni would have had to pay a heavy monetary fine, or even due to disappointment that the king would not be there to unveil it. The public did not know that the monarch was seriously ill and would die 10 days later. No matter what the reason, Mengoni left behind an invaluable legacy of buildings in cities like Bologna, Magione (Umbria) and Florence as well as unrealised innovative projects for Rome.