You may not know this but today is the opening day of the EXPO in Milan!
I’ll be honest and say, that if the EXPO wasn’t in Italy this year I would have no idea what day the opening day was, nor could I tell you with 100% confidence which city! But I’m connected to the EXPO in a strange way and I have been waiting for this day for 7 years!
I moved to Milan the same year that they announced that Milan had won the bid for the EXPO in 2015. At the time I was working in the posh Zona Brera in the centre of Milan but was living in the not so posh suburbs along the M3 Metro line. Every day, I would take the subway into work and I remember when they finished covering every single Metro station with huge banners about the EXPO.
I can’t seem to find an image about the campaign, but it was basically a blurry photo of two people running through crowds in the evening, holding hands with a caption that said “There will be friends of friends to guide you – EXPO 2015”.
I could feel it. I was already there.
Everything about the city radiated positivity and energy and anticipation of what could come.
We just had to wait and at the time 2015 seemed so far away. I had only intended on staying in Milan for a few months because the plan was to move back to Toronto and find a job after my quarter life crisis in Italy! I don’t know why, but I just KNEW in my heart that I would still be in Italy when the EXPO rolled around, I had to experience it first hand and now it is finally here.
Haters Gonna Hate
I don’t want to make this post too long, I’ll save the gory details of the rather long and embarrassing issues that have surrounded EXPO over these last few years. I’ll also spare you my thoughts on how I often feel as though Italians are a little jealous of each other….almost too jealous. I would even go so far as to call them haters. Rest assured that every phenomenally exceptional person from this Peninsula has undergone their fair share of criticism. Why look at Modena, the small city where I live. In my life there have been THREE International celebrities that have come from Modena, and all three have undergone criticism for being exceptional!
Pavarotti? Pompus, plus he was divorced. (overheard in Italy!)
Enzo Ferrari? So what if he created Ferrari from the ground up, why did he always wear sunglasses? (overheard in Italy!)
Massimo Bottura (essentially the World’s number one Chef!)? He thinks he can cook? (overheard in Italy!)
So it comes as no surprise that there is a deep undercurrent of hate in Italy for what will be MAGNIFICENT.
Let me set the record straight here. I LOVE THE EXPO. I’m so happy to be alive to experience it first hand with my family, and I can feel it everyday. It is about so much more than whether or not the final details were perfected, it is about the Piazza in front of Modena’s Castle that has always been used as a PARKING LOT, and is now (FINALLY) a real public space with fountains, benches and new stores.
EXPO is not just in Milan, EXPO is EVERYWHERE in Italy and felt throughout most of Europe.
That being said…GET YOURSELF TO THE EXPO and do not MISS IT.
#1 – It’s a Once In a Lifetime Event
Deciding to host the World’s International Exhibition is a costly affair. In the 164 years since the First World Expo in London in 1851, Italy has hosted the Exhibition a total of TWO times, the last being in Turin in 1911. WE MAY NOT HAVE THE EXPO BACK IN ITALY IN OUR LIFETIME PEOPLE!!! So you should really check it out!
#2 – Architecture of the Future
Avant guard. That is all I can think of whenever I think of Italy’s pavilion and the rest of the architecture that has come out of the World Expo’s. When Alexandre Gustave Eiffel created the Eiffel Tower as the entrance gate into the 1889 World EXPO he was criticized for its design. Enough said.
#3 EVERYONE Will Be Talking About It
Do you really want to be that person who in 6 months when the EXPO is over has to answer “No” to the question “Did you go to the EXPO?”….for the rest of your life!? I do not. The EXPO is going to be at the centre of every single conversation for the next 6 months and beyond. It could potentially be a turning point in the country’s history (you never know!) and people may even refer to Italy pre-EXPO and post-EXPO. Don’t commit pop culture suicide….GO TO THE EXPO!
4 – It Will be AMAZING
Have you seen the youtube ads? Have you seen pictures of the pavilions? Have you see the entire area dedicated to CHILDREN? Dear EXPO you have already surpassed my expectations.
5 – Italy OWNS this theme
“Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life” boiled down to “let’s talk about food”. Is there any other country in the WORLD that talks about food more than Italy? No. I have yet to last 5 minutes of a conversation with an Italian without discussing food in great detail. Their relationship with food is so much more than the simple consumption of food. It is a philosophy.
Ask an Italian if they can taste the difference between olive oil from Liguria’s Taggiasche olives or the Leccino variety found in Tuscany. They can. In fact olive oils have their own sommeliers with rankings similar to wine.
Ask if they can taste the difference between Parmigiano Reggiano aged 12 months and that aged 24 months. You better believe it, but NOT ONLY, they can also taste the difference depending on what breed of cow’s milk was used!
Ragù is like meat sauce right? Oh No. Every area of Italy has its own recipe. Modena and Bologna are only 20 mintues away from each other and yet their “meat sauce” is different! This holds true for almost every “Italian” dish from lasagna to tortellini to pizza!
The EXPO, aside from being the perfect occasion to share with the World Italian products, culinary history and culture will also be a platform to talk about World issues connected to food quality and productions. Everything from technology and innovation to creativity and dilemmas will be discussed. Years before anyone was talking about the uncertainties of global food supplies the MIT for the Club of Rome completed one of the first studies.
And so there you have it. 5 incredibly good reasons that I think all Italians should come to the EXPO2015 in Milan!
I hope you’ll follow along on social media when I visit the EXPO later this month! I will also be writing a series of posts to help people plan their trip. In the meantime you can find more than enough info on the official EXPO website here.
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