Milano, Italy: The Expo
Milan just oozes with glamour and poise. Even the people on the streets all look like models (and they very well might be considering it's one of the fashion capitals of the world). Of course, it’s large and cosmopolitan, but it has many delightful little areas as well. First, we had to get the main attractions out of the way. We started our “tourist day” in the Piazza Castello, walked through the grandiose Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, and ended up in the Piazza del Duomo to admire the ornate façade of the cathedral (the Duomo di Milano). My favourite out of these sites was by far the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. Its epic glass ceilings and gold embellishments really make you feel like a hollywood star walking in the red carpet. We even found the famous bull on the mosaic floor. Apparently, you’re supposed to spin three times on the bull’s.. um.. privates for good luck. Other than the bull’s balls.. Milan is pretty much just as sparkling and glamorous as you would imagine. No wonder it’s the fashion capital of the world.
Again, I think we made a great choice by staying in an area that felt a bit more local and a bit further away from the main tourist attractions. We stayed in the “Zona Tortona” right by the Porta Genova metro station. This neighborhood has been known to attract a crowd of young creatives, photographers, and designers with its thrift stores, vintage shops, art spaces, and cafes. It’s come a long way from its former days as an industrial warehouse-filled run-down area… hmm reminds me of North Brooklyn & Bushwick!
I was most excited to visit Milan because our friend Federica is living there now. After our tourist sight-seeing filled day, we met up with her and she took us around the Navigli District. This area is the mecca for cool bars and hipsters in Milan (and it just so happens it’s right around the corner from the Zona Tortona where we were staying!). She took us out to a nice restaurant and then we walked along the canal bars ending up in “La Darsena,” Milan’s newly reopened city dock. Here, young people line the scenic river banks, chatting and laughing with beer bottles and cigarettes in hand. The city is filled with a great lively spirit and of course, many loud and loving Italians.
The next day we went to check out the World Expo. The chosen theme for the fair this year was “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life”. Over 140 countries showcased their newest technology and solutions for world hunger in pavilions of all shapes and sizes. Many exhibits had multi-sensory and interactive displays. One of my favorites was Brazil’s pavilion with a crazy trampoline net as an entrance that overlooked the "Green Gallery" below, which is made up of a series of planter boxer with flowers and fruits from Brazil. Another pavilion that stood out was Save the Children Foundation’s highly informative and interactive installation that was built using simple wood and recycled materials. The stands where you could buy traditional food and drinks from each country were a great and simple way to get to know a little bit about a lot of countries’ cultures and cuisines. The free WiFi throughout the whole fair was a nice bonus for us travelers too. Unfortunately, many of the exhibitions were lacking vital information and failed to prove any concrete action towards guaranteeing healthy, safe, and sufficient food for everyone while respecting the Earth and its natural resources. Even though I believe there was some room for improvement overall in the Expo, I think it’s still great to have such a large global push to promote innovation for a sustainable future.