The Italian city of Milan is anticipating around 20 million visitors from 1 May to 31 October 2015, the period during which it will be hosting Expo Milano 2015 – this year’s universal exposition.
The Expo site is spread over an area of 1.1 million square metres in Rho, a suburb north-west of Milan’s city centre. By public transport the journey between the two will take you around 35 minutes.
Up to 250,000 visitors are allowed onto the Expo site each day. Most guests are drawn by the prospect of browsing pavilions with state-of-the-art exhibitions – relating to the Expo Milano 2015’s theme Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life. An Expo record of 53 participating nations have erected their own pavilions this year while the remainder of the 148 participating countries and international organisations are exhibiting within food- and climate-themed clusters.
Cirque du Soleil at the Expo
For some people the show Allavita!, created by Cirque du Soleil, is the key reason to visit the Expo. Performances of Allavita! will take place nightly, from 15 May to 30 August, at the site’s open air theatre.
This year’s theme will bring together food producers, consumers, academics and representatives from businesses to participate in debates and workshops. Organisers hope that Expo Milano 2015 will contribute solutions to issues relating to sustainable development plus some of the world’s nutrition and food supply problems.
Experts estimate that, at present, 870 million of the world’s 7.3 billion people are starving while excessive food consumption leads to 2.8 million deaths each year. At current rates the global population will rise to nine billion by 2050, meaning there’s a pressing need to find solutions to food and water shortages.
Attending Expo Milano 2015
You can buy open tickets or tickets valid only for set dates. Season tickets are also available. To purchase tickets visit the Expo Milano 2015 website. The site is also a source of Expo-related news and lists daily events.
Only one of the Expo’s five thematic areas is located within Milan’s city centre. La Triennale – with an exhibition area of 7,000 square metres – is hosting Arts and Foods: Rituals since 1851, featuring paintings, sculptures plus a mixture of other media. The exhibition explores changes in the depiction of food and dining experiences since the inaugural World’s Fair, held in London during 1851.
Expo in the City
The City of Milan and the Milan Chamber of Commerce are cooperating to organise Expo in the City. Around 7,000 events are also being planned away from the Expo site.
See the Expo in the City website for a full listing of events, including art exhibitions, concerts, sporting events plus street entertainment and scientific conferences. The venues include historic palaces, museums and parks around Milan.
Reasons to Visit Milan
Milan, of course, is known throughout the world as fashion and design hub. Creative and industrious, the metropolitan area contributes around 10 per cent of Italy’s Gross Domestic Product. To window shop in stores showcasing the latest offerings from Milanese fashion houses, take a walk in the Montenapoleone district.
You can also browse shops in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, the glass-roofed, 19th century shopping arcade, housing flagship stores of some of the biggest names in world fashion. The arcade underwent major renovations ahead of the Expo.
From there you can stroll to the nearby cathedral, the Duomo, is renowned for having one of the world’s most ornate Gothic facades. Building started in 1387 but, remarkably, was not completed until 1965. From the rooftop you can enjoy evocative panoramas of the heart of Milan, including views onto the Piazzo del Duomo (Cathedral Square) and Palazzo Reale (Royal Palace).
Some people see the San Siro stadium as a cathedral of sorts. Both of Milan’s most successful football teams play their home games at the ground, which has more than 79,000 seats plus a museum recounting the histories of A.C. Milan and F.C. Internazionale.
If you enjoy art and literature then add a visit to the Ambrosiana Art Gallery and Library to your itinerary. The Ambrosiana houses the Codex Atlanticus, twelve volumes binding more than 1,000 leaves with sketches and writings produced by Leonardo da Vinci between 1478 and 1519. Head to the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie to see his mural The Last Supper.
Where to eat
If you enjoy dining in stylish, modern café-restaurants then book a table at Larte (Via Manzoni 5; tel. +39 (0)2 89096950; closed Sundays) which opened to the public in October 2014. With art displayed on exposed concrete walls, designer seats and Mediterranean cuisine inspired by Capri’s Michelin-starred Il Riccio Restaurant, Larte is conceptualised as a meeting place of the best of all things Italian, including design and fashion.
Chef Gennaro Immobile and his team prepare their tasty, simple but beautifully presented dishes in a kitchen that’s open – save for a mesh screen – meaning you can watch the team at work. Every month Larte hosts an up-and-coming guest chef for one week, providing a showcase for their talent plus culinary product supplied by farmers and producers from their local region.
I’d return to lunch at Larte after lunching on mezzi paccheri pasta with aubergine, vine tomatoes and provolone cheese served with fresh basil followed by a swordfish medallion with a vegetable caponata and rocket pesto.
Where to sleep
Stuart stayed at the 4-star Starhotels Ritz Milan (Via Spallanzani 40).
Stuart flew from Newcastle to Milan Linate airways with British Airways.
Etihad Airways is the official global airline carrier of Expo Milano 2015.
By rail the journey from London via Paris Milan’s Rho Fiera Milano railway station takes 11 hours 15 minutes.
View the Expo Milano 2015 website or download the free app for use on mobile devices. The Expo site is open daily, from 10am to 11pm, until 31 October 2015. If you’re in Milan you can also head to the Expo Gate information centre, close to site of the 1906 Expo and a couple of minutes stroll from the Castello Sforzesco, the fortress built in the 15th century for Milan’s ruling family.
Explora is the official tourism board of Expo Milano 2015. Explora provides information relating to Milan and other destinations in the Lombardy, including suggestions relating to experiences in the region. These include food and wine tastings plus golf and wellness breaks. Explora’s website allows you search for accommodation by type – from camp sites to luxury villas – and according to the distance you’d like to stay from the Expo site.
The Italian Tourism Office’s website has ideas for travel in Italy.