The Milan World Expo is a world fair that this year brings together over 140 nations to talk about food systems, innovation and nutrition. Each country showcases the very best of what they are doing in the food sector through cluster stands and unique, architecturally designed pavilions, aiming to promote the Expo theme of “Feed the Planet”. The overarching objective is to produce the “Milan Charter” – a roadmap if you like – to raise awareness about the universal right to healthy, safe and sufficient food supply.
So while the theme relates to food, the Milan Expo is more than just a “food festival” as I’ve heard many people refer to it as. (But of course you can eat here too – options are endless from food trucks to themed restaurants within the pavilions).
There has been much controversy surrounding the event from its management and major delays to the misuse of public funds. But I sincerely hope, that as an event it will inject some (much needed) life into the Italian economy and that a legacy is left long after the gates close.
Here are my tips for how to navigate it:
Go with an open mind
Like I said, there has been much controversy surrounding the management (or lack thereof) of Expo. But keep in mind what the overall objective is. I was blown away by how big it was and really enjoyed some of the interactive experiences. I felt a really positive energy and spirit of community. My favourite pavilions were Italy (of course), Morocco and Japan. Pre-book your tickets
To avoid lines, pre-book your tickets online. You can book an open ticket (€39) or a day pass for a particular day (€34). The Expo site is open daily from 10am to 11pm (until midnight on weekends). There are special prices for seniors and family packages are available too. Children under 3 are free.
Avoid going on the weekend
If you can, go during the week to avoid big crowds and lines at all the pavilions. Even better if you can avoid meal times.
Take your time: Rome wasn’t built in a day
And nor was Expo.. It’s massive. I mean, massive. Take it easy, don’t expect to see it all in one visit. If one visit is all you have, take a look at the map beforehand and prioritise the must-see things as best you can. Look after you! Keep hydrated and wear super comfortable shoes. Stop and take a break here and there! The Italy Pavilion
You can’t visit Expo in Milan without a visit to the Italy Pavillion. In fact, given its positioned at the very crossroad of the site, you won’t! A mix of interactive displays, installations and exhibitions showcasing what agriculture, food and wine means to Italy and the world and even a boot shaped pot plant featuring local produce by region.
After dark, every hour, on the hour there is a light and water show that has the Tree of Life come alive. This is the signature piece of the Italy Pavillion and represents . By day while the big structure is kind of impressive, by night it’s a sensory feast for the eyes. Travel by metro
From the centre of Milan take the metro to RHO Fiera. It’s about a 30 minute ride and costs a few euro. It’s the quickest and most convenient way to get there (and this is coming from a rare public transport user!). RHO Fiera is literally at the entrance of the Expo site.
Take a regional food trip through Italy
Eataly – love it or hate it – has a huge presence not only in the Italian food and dining sector but at Expo too! There is a stand for each and every Italian region, offering 4-6 key regional dishes and rotating chefs each month. So in an instant you can dine on the northern delights of Alto-Adige to the culturally diverse Sicily.
IdentitaGolosita is hosting dining events thought Expo with award winning and young and upcoming Italian chefs including some of Italy’s best like Cristina Bowerman, Massimo Bottura and Carlo Cracco. This is where you can sample some of the best in traditional and contemporary Italian cuisine. The organisers say they will cook approximately 150,000 meals per day – 26 million meals over the 6 month duration of Expo! Click here for more details and the chef scehdule.
Learn the true meaning of Slow Food
The movement which honors local produce and promotion of the heritage and culture of food, Slow Food was born in Italy (Bra in the region of Piemonte to be precise) and at this pavilion, through tactile displays you can learn all about it. Leave your mark at Expo with a message about what food means to you on the food tree.
Milan World Expo kicked off on 1 May and runs right through to end of October. For more information and tickets, visit: http://www.expo2015.org/
Signing off from Trastevere