Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Milan Expo

We were in Milano the weekend of June 6 and 7. We had tickets to attend Expo Sunday, June 7th. This was our first mistake. If you can help it, do not go to EXPO on a week end, particularly on a Sunday. The crowds will be massive, which is what we experienced.

The temperature in Milan was over 90 degrees and I HATE the heat. This was our second mistake. If you go to EXPO in the summer, I would suggest going at night. The fair opens at 10:00 AM and goes until 8:00pm. We got there as soon as it opened, shortly after 10:00 but by then it was already hot, hot, hot and crowded. My being overcome by the heat, undoubtedly colored my experience of EXPO. I was just too hot and cranky most of the time. Thank god they had shades covering the major walk way. I wouldn't have managed it otherwise.

Not that it was obvious to us, but the theme of this EXPO is "Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life" A very noble sounding cause. Each country was to examine its position regarding the theme and offer solutions regarding the major challenges of food.

EXPO is laid out in a design inspired by a Roman "castrum" shaped like a cross. There are two large perpendicular streets named Cardo and Decumano. The main square, Piazza Italia, is situated at the intersection of these two streets.  Ok...that is the official blurb.  We knew it was going to be about food and that we would see pavillions from different countries. So far, so good. The pavillions are not grouped by geography...all of the African pavillions together, or alphabetically. Instead they are grouped by 5 sub themes of : 1. The Story of Mankind the Story of Food. 2. Feast and Famine a Contemporary  paradox 3. The Future of Food 4. Sustainable Food= and equitable World 5. Taste is Knowledge.

OK...there was no way any of us got this. You know I love Italy and I love Italians but....I think the organization of EXPO became a little like the road signs at the end or a dead end road that put every possible little town on the sign. They way over complicated the message, and without a guide it just doesn't hang together, in my humble opinion.

As the Stoic One says they had way too much data not enough information. I'm just saying that the 4 of us had no idea how this thing was laid out. We kept looking at maps to find things. Nothing was intuitive.

Let's start at the beginning. As you come to the entrance of the fair, you are met by large statues of greeters. Like much of my experience at EXPO, I just kind of went huh?????  They're very big. I am unsure if they are supposed to relate to the 5 themes, the overall theme or are there because someone liked them.

Then down the broad street that houses the main pavillions.

Because this entry street was so wide, it did not appear that the fair was that crowded, but.....it was. Every pavillion we tried to get into was a 2 hour wait, so we started going into ones that were not on our list...like Israel.

Ok. So Israel was a pavillion we could get into. It had an interesting multimedia show where a live person was talking to a person on the screen. Clever...then we learned that the Israelis invented the drip system and cherry tomatoes.  Ok.

Next we went to the Quatar pavilion. Why? Because we could get in! They had long tables that had virtual food on plates. You could use your finger and move the food from the grid on to your plate and then you got information about the food. Fun for kids. The problem was, there were still so many people, you couldn't take the time to read everything because people were pushing you along.

Might I add, there was nothing to eat at these pavilions..Eating was all congregated in specific area. We were too hot and cranky to eat.

The US did have a unique way to show how you could use vertical space to garden.

An interesting approach.

This was clever.

So we couldn't get into the Italian pavillion. By the time we made it all the way down to the end, the wait was 2 hours in line, in the sun. Not happening.

To summarize. It is finished! It is very easy to get to. Great public transport system. It is way too big to see in one day. Try to go during the week. We heard the Brazilian pavilion, the Japanese Pavilion and the Italian Pavilion are all fantastic. We wouldn't know.

To leave you on a high note. We all loved Milan. It was clean, people were friendly, happy to see tourists and the public transportation system in Milan is terrific. We also loved our hotel, Spadari al Duomo. Highly recommend it. Fantastic customer service.

We will go back to Milan if not to EXPO.


  1. Oh, how awful an experience! But we do learn something new everyday, don't we? When I was taking Italian lessons, my instructor was one of the organizers for the USA exhibit. She made it sound so interesting but never mentioned the problems that you had with the crowds, etc. Next year should be much better for you.

    1. Hi Melanie. We could have been better prepared. Read more about the organisation. We never got into the US exhibit. Only saw it from the outside. Still, we loved Milan.