The World Expo was in Vancouver, BC Canada in 1986 and I distinctly remember seeing this movie called: “Rainbow War”. I begged my parents to see it numerous times. I’m pretty sure I drove them crazy! It is a beautiful story about peace, and I remember its message vividly even at the young age of 6. Living in Paris, Milan is a hop, skip, flight away so naturally visiting Milan and the Expo quickly made its way to the top of the travel list. Although I usually travel alone, my cousin Giovanna was my Milano buddy for this adventure weekend!
The World Expo in Milan is themed: “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life”, and ‘sustainability‘ is the universal word that sums up the overall agenda. This ‘Expo’ voyage, celebrating the strengths of each represented country there, while encouraging and presenting sustainable ideas/projects as a collective, is a beautiful moment in our humanity, celebrating the joy of our uniqueness.
The UN’s concept this year is the: Zero Hunger Challenge. The displays in the UN Pavilion were beautiful and poignant. They featured the on-going story about the abundant waste and the unimaginable hunger and starvation that plagues our world. It is a huge global injustice and a seemingly insurmountable problem. But at the Expo… hope reigns, optimism grows, plans and ideas flood minds…IT IS INSPIRING. Knowledge is swirled about in undeniable awareness. Being there, you are invited to go a step further than where you were yesterday.. “be the change you want to see in the world” – Mahatma Gandhi
I invite you to follow the links for additional information. Below are a few personal memories from some of the pavilions I visited and more about our visit to Milan.
At the United Arab Emirates pavilion ‘Food for Thought – Shaping and Sharing the Future’ they shared their past and present through holographic presentations, especially where the issue of water is concerned. It was an eye opening experience to a girl hailing from the wet lands of the West Coast of Canada. There was a true sense of global initiative and planning, relaying a compelling conversation about working together. Indeed, ‘Food for Thought’.
The Arab Emirates will be hosting the 2020 world expo – milestone birthday trip?
“Azerbaijan, Treasure of Biodiversity” had a wonderful musical and interactive light display full of colour, movement and sound summarizing their message. I was asked to be filmed playing the wall guitars for a broadcast. My hands will be or have been on the news or some sort of program somewhere 😉
The Future Food District was technologically overwhelming with star trek screens and detailed information about any item of food in this large ‘grocery store’. For instance, upon picking up say, broccoli, the see-through screen above would provide detailed information, chart style, about the carbon imprint among many other details! It is all about making conscious decisions about where your food comes from.
After Kuwait’s “Challenge of Nature” presentation, just before exiting, we tried a few velvety perfume oils (Real perfume!). When I asked how much it might cost for a small bottle (5ml approx.) she said about 900 euros…ahem. So I walked out of their pavilion feeling like a million dollars enjoying this sublime great smelling moment.
After visiting and learning more about Quatar and their concept “Seeding Sustainability Innovative Solutions for Food Security” I graciously got in line for a small yet lovely henna tattoo I was sad to see part my hand after a week.
“Mexico, the Seed for the New World: Food, Diversity and Heritage”, had a lovely presentation, featuring some gorgeous original art and huge gemstones. Prior to leaving, we ate some tongue-dancing tacos/tapas with a beer. Perfect! Speaking of food, “Tunisia, Naturally Generous” – is where we enjoyed a delicious Samosa – spicy goodness! It all kind of went with the 36 degree sunny day!
‘Marocco, A Journey of Flavors’ gave abundantly with sweet oranges aromatically permeating through their rooms, along with gorgeous spices and more.
Israel, “The Fields of Tomorrow” had a fun holographic narrative story to help share their successes in who they are as a country.
The EU presented a very cute animated film called: “The story of Sylvia and Alex – the golden ear” welcoming us to learn about the environment via a love story. Everyone was smiling walking out!
The line-ups at the Italian Pavilion were beyond long all day so we continued visiting different countries. But we did see a small musical interlude at the “Tree of Life”. I did visit the smaller booths in the big Italy section which were separated by different provinces such as “Lombardia” and their herbal heaven.
Ethiopia, the Root of Coffee and Much More, had delicious food being served, the aroma was unbelievable! With the heat, I wasn’t quite in the mood for a huge meal, however, I went straight for the coffee that knocked me right off my feet in comparison to the coffee offered by the UAE yet was also very delicious! The Coffee Cluster in general was very interesting, but I could only sample so much!
Ecuador, “Journey to the Center of Life” offered their presentation in 3 different languages while sharing their strengths and unique offerings. I smelled this incredible chocolate through this plastic display case that had a small vent hole that beamed ones nose right to it! Happy place?
Between countries, we stopped for sparkling wine at Franciacorta. We drank luxuriously while listening and watching the performers in front of the Kazakhstan pavilion, “The Land of Opportunities”. They will be hosting the World Expo in 2017.
Hungary displayed and offered their magical mineral water while wonderful ladies embroidered and musicians/dancers performed. It was a lovely concert break!
France, “Different Ways of Producing and Providing Food” (Had to visit France!) displayed a comprehensive agricultural garden in front of their pavilion while inside sharing all food culture and agriculture ideas.
Germany, “Fields of Ideas” under the motto “Be active”, as a vibrant, fertile “landscape” filled with ideas, had an impressive concept. We were given plain white boards before entering. It was coded by a handful of dots around the perimeter that would trigger one of three languages (English, French or Italian) to help convey their concept and message at different terminals inside. Meanwhile at the end, the “Be active” section was a musical interactive section and we were able to use these boards in different ways to create music!
Fighting the clock, and although I didn’t tour inside the USA pavilion, the big band music coming from their roof top along with coupled dancers in their 1950s wear was a very cool scene.
After having visited the countries mentioned and some other countries not mentioned it was time to head home for some sleep! My only regret is not having bought two days at the Expo instead of one! There is so much to see, do, eat, enjoy, celebrate, and ponder at World Expos!
The following day, we had a reservation to visit “The Last Supper” by Leonardo Da Vinci at the Chiesa Santa Maria Della Grazie. We started the day at the Giardini Pubblici Indro Montanelli taking in the beautiful scenery, the aroma from the magnolia trees, watching the turtles, fishes and ducks in the ponds.
Shortly we were surprisingly early to the church, so we strolled and observed all the differently decorated iron gates that separated the public from the apartment courtyards and stopped in at a couple of fun places where they were offering free exhibits. We came across this one particular courtyard where this cute food truck, care of Meert (Depuis 1761 – oui, french!), was tucked away in the corner. This building surrounding this courtyard was the French institute (I’m never far from home ;). My cousin and I had a croque monsieur on swedish bread (huh?) and we also sampled a small tester size gaufre with Madagascar vanilla cream frosting inside. YUM!
Back at the church, we were ushered into four separate closed off sections which were air controlled and sealed before our glorious 15 minutes in front the fresco once painted by Leonardo Da Vinci. Of course, since he created this masterpiece it had undergone different tragic afflictions. However with the stellar restoration teams over the centuries, this Last Supper piece is in good shape. After that, we went to the Brera museum where a very substantial religious collection is kept minus a couple of modern pieces by Modigliani, for example. My favourite piece was the “Il bacio” by Hayez. *Sigh*
Trying to see as much as possible, we then headed to see the famous Castle Sforzesco built in the 15th century before heading to the Cathedral.
The outside of the Duomo is magnificent, but the line up for the tickets just to enter two small sections was less than desirable. Your two euro ticket will get you down two short hallways where the rest is blocked off. Tickets to the roof and crypt are much more however we chose to move on. The Galleria Vittorio Emmanuelle II’s stunning roof shelters name brands such as Gucci etc and cafes. It is one of the oldest malls in the world. With this full day under our belt, a quick dinner in our room and a foot soak was just what the tourist gods recommended!
Our final day was classic. While waiting in line for tickets and entry to the Leonardo Da Vinci exhibition at the Piazza Reale, a sea of brides arrived one by one for what appeared to be the conveyer belt of weddings on this particular Saturday! Time passed rather quickly while observing the fashion to the right of us. Once inside, I was in Da Vinci heaven! The exhibition is phenomenal ~ one of the best exhibitions I have ever been to. I was blown away at the amount of originals and the way the exhibition was structured. Just sublime!
La Scala museum was next and I have to admit that I was underwhelmed. In all fairness, anything following the Leonardo Da Vinci exhibition would have fallen flat in comparison, however take the fact that they have Liszt’s piano and some original scores and letters, it was still interesting to see. What did pair well with this day was some Risotto alla Milanese! A must in Milano! My cousin and I found this lovely restaurant *Granaio – Caffe and Cucina*. I swear I could have ordered 3 bowls of this famous saffron-ladened risotto! We also ordered grilled vegetables that were cooked to perfection! Yum, and yum again. I do wish I had had room for gelato as their desserts looked nothing short of divine!
My plane back to Paris was delayed two hours due to weather, along with three gate changes when we were already supposed to be in the air. Anyone remember that scene at the end of “Clue” where they were summarizing the ‘who did it’ story, running from room to room? In my case, a plane full of us were running between gates D12, D2, and D16 (and they were not next door to one another). The soundtrack played in my head while I raced from gate to gate to gate. Hilarious and I got some more exercise 😉
Upon returning to Paris, I quickly got settled and changed so that I could meet my friend Rob from Victoria and his friend visiting Paris for a very quick trip! I played quasi tourist guide for a small part before wining and dining. It was a lovely finish to my short jaunt to Milan! Thank you Rob and Sean!