Expo Milano 2015: Milan’s universal exposition

The Italian city of Milan anticipated around 20 million visitors from 1 May to 31 October 2015 for the Expo Milano 2015. The universal exposition drew 21 million.

The Expo site was 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 took around 35 minutes.

Up to 250,000 visitors were allowed onto the Expo site each day. Most guests were 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 erected their own pavilions while the remainder of the 148 participating countries and international organisations exhibited within food- and climate-themed clusters.

Cirque du Soleil at the Expo

For some people the show Allavita!, created by Cirque du Soleil, was the key reason to visit the Expo. Performances of Allavita! took place nightly, from 15 May to 30 August, at the site’s open air theatre.

The theme brought together food producers, consumers, academics and representatives from businesses to participate in debates and workshops. Organisers hoped that Expo Milano 2015 would contribute solutions to issues relating to sustainable development plus world’s problems relating to nutrition and food supply.

Experts estimated that at the time of the Expo 870 million of the world’s 7.3 billion people were starving while excessive food consumption was leading to 2.8 million deaths each year. Experts predict that 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

It was possible to purchase open tickets or tickets valid for set dates. Season tickets were also available. Tickets could be bought via the Expo Milano 2015 website, which was also a source of Expo-related news and events.

Only one of the Expo’s five thematic areas was located within Milan’s city centre. La Triennale – with an exhibition area of 7,000 square metres – hosted Arts and Foods: Rituals since 1851, featuring paintings, sculptures plus a mixture of other media. The exhibition explored 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 cooperated to organise Expo in the City. Around 7,000 events were also held away from the Expo site.

They included art exhibitions, concerts, sporting activities plus street entertainment and scientific conferences. The venues included 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.

Seared swordfish served at Larte restaurant in Milan, Italy.
Seared swordfish served at Larte restaurant in Milan, Italy.

Where to eat in Milan

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). 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 in Milan

Stuart stayed at the 4-star Starhotels Ritz Milan (Via Spallanzani 40; tel. +39 (0)2 2551). The hotel has 197 rooms and suites plus a bar and restaurant. A breakfast buffet is laid out each morning.

Getting there

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.

Further information

The Italian Tourism Office’s website has ideas for travel in Italy.

Photos illustrating this post are by Why Eye Photography.

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Facade of the Gothic cathedral (Duomo) in Milan, Italy.
Facade of the Gothic cathedral (Duomo) in Milan, Italy.

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