If you follow travel lists and blogs, you’ve probably heard that Milan has topped many lists of places to visit in 2015 due to the 2015 Milan Expo. Since I’ll be traveling to Italy this September (much more to come on that look out for posts with #italiansoiree2015) and hope to attend the expo, I thought I’d share with you what I’ve learned so far. Since the expo has only been open for about six weeks, it’s been a bit harder than you would think to find reliable accounts about what to expect, but I’ve done my best to pull together at least the basic information you’ll need if you’re planning a visit!
What is a World Expo?
I’m sure you all have heard of the World’s Fair, well the World’s Expo is just another name for the same thing. This institution governed by the Bureau of International Expositions, has brought us some of our most famous monuments including the Eiffel Tower and Space Needle. With a history of over 150 years, the World’s Expo has evolved over the years. They started out as a way to share scientific and technological advancements with the whole world. It wasn’t until the 1940’s World Expo in New York that the expo’s began to center around a cultural theme and become a place more-so of cultural exchange than technological exchange. It wasn’t until the late 1980’s that the world’s expo morphed into what it is today. Although we’ve kept the cultural theme and brought science & technology back into the mix, the expo is now more of a place for countries to show off what makes them unique.
What is the 2015 Milan Expo?
The theme of this year’s expo is Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life. It will be held just outside of Milan and will run from May 1, 2015 through October 31, 2015. Over 140 countries will be participating, with more than 20 million visitors expected to visit over the six months it is open. Many countries will have their own pavilions where they will show off their interpretation of the theme and highlight their culture. In addition to the country pavilions, there is also a main area that explores a number of different themes including Future Foods, Arts & Food, and a Children’s park. The expo will also include over 150 restaurants, cafes, food bars, etc.. With up to 250,000 visitors in any given day, the Milan Expo is essentially a temporary small city of it’s own.
Why attend the Milan Expo?
World Expos only occur every 2 to 3 years and the move all over the world. The next expo will be in Astana, Kazakhstan in 2017 followed by the 2020 World’s Expo in Dubai, UAE. While I wouldn’t necessarily make a special trip for the Milan World’s Expo, I think that if you were planning a trip to Italy or a nearby country it’s definitely worth altering your itinerary to check it out. Especially since this year’s theme revolves around food and food technology, two things that I’m super passionate about. Overall, attending any World’s Fair is definitely a once in a lifetime event. I still remember looking at pictures and hearing stories about when my granddad attended the New York World’s Fair in 1939.
Tips for Attending the 2015 Milan Expo
So while I won’t to be able to give you any first hand experience about the expo until September, I have read just about every news article and blogger account that I could get my hands. Here are some of the important facts I’ve been able to gather along with some of the best reviews I’ve found:
You have quite a few options as far as buying tickets go. You can buy a one day pass with an open date or a set date. Set date tickets seem to be the way to go if you can finalize your plans because not only are they 5€ cheaper, they also guarantee you’ll be able to get in on the day you go. With open tickets you take the chance that the expo will be at capacity on your desired day. From what I’ve heard from my cousins who live in Milan, you probably need at least two days to see everything. If you’re going to do back to back days it’s worth it to get a two day ticket which will save you 11€ using the set date option. Finally, if you’ll be in Milan for a few days, it might be worth checking out the Expo in the evenings. The evening ticket is 5€ and is valid after 7pm. You’ll probably only be able to see 2-3 exhibits and maybe grab some dinner before they close at 11pm, but it’s a good way to check out things you may have missed during a previous day or get a preview before spending the full day at the Expo. There are also family and season tickets. Check here to find out all your options.
There are a bunch of ways you can make your way to the expo site. The website lists them all here, the most important thing to remember if you’re taking the train or metro is you’re looking for the Rho-Fiera stop.
What to See
I still have a ton more research to do, but I know that I’ll definitely be visiting the United States’ pavilion, Italy’s pavilion, & the Nutella bar. I’ve also heard a lot of buzz surrounding Brazil’s pavilion, Foods of the Future area, United Arab Emirate’s pavilion, and South Korea’s pavilion. I also really want to check out pavilions by countries I’ve never thought of traveling to learn more about them and their food. I think that Luxe Adventure Traveler’s post about the Expo definitely was one of the best I’ve read, especially since it mentions that you can take a guided tour which may be well worth the 20€. I also plan on using the Wall Street Journal’s article about where to eat at the Expo to plan out where I should try to grab meals. Swide.com provides a lot of information about the Expo. One of their best articles I’ve read was 10 Things + 1 Not to Miss at the Expo by Chiara Giovoni which gives a great list of highlights not to miss.