Milan is a magnet for travelers any time of year. But from May 1 - October 31, the attractions of Italy’s most sophisticated (and second largest) city will entice millions. That’s when the event known previously as The World’s Fair comes to the Lombardian capital.
Befitting its locale, EXPO Milano 2015 is all about food.
“The official theme is ‘Feeding the Planet-Energy for Life.’ We expect more than 20 million visitors. We’ll have more than 140 countries and international organizations represented,” Italian National Tourist Board Spokesperson Emanuela Boni tells Travel Agent.
The U.S. has announced a high-profile presence that will be something akin to a moveable feast.
Food trucks at the USA Pavilion will deliver a taste of American culinary diversity. On the menu: lobster rolls, Korean tacos, burgers and more. The USA Pavilion itself is designed to be a showstopper. A modernist take on an American barn, it features glass walls, a digital roof, vertical food garden, huge video wall, interactive exhibits, a rooftop terrace, cafe and shops. It’s comprised primarily of recyclable and reclaimed materials.
During the expo, the James Beard Foundation is sponsoring a series of pop-up restaurants in downtown Milan. Visitors can sample prix-fixe meals prepared by acclaimed American chefs. The roster of over fifty names includes Tom Colicchio, Mario Batali, David Chang, Jacques Pépin, José Andrés, Rick Bayless, and Lidia Bastianich. Also set to participate: White House Executive Chef Criseta Comerford.
Every Thursday the restaurant will serve a Thanksgiving meal; while Sundays will feature a live jazz brunch.
Ashley Ganz, owner of Artisans of Leisure in New York City, tells Travel Agent that the media push about the expo has been pretty effective. It also helps the expo’s theme dovetails with today’s heightened interest in cultural and culinary travel.
“We’re seeing interest in Milan on the part of lots of different travelers. Some of them have never been to Italy but they’re intrigued by the expo. Others have been many times to Europe and they want to be sure to experience it. For example, I have some clients who were already planning to be in the Lake District of northern Italy. We’re getting them tickets, private transfers and local guides,” said Ganz.
Visitors will probably need at least a few days to fully explore the 300 acres of expo grounds north of Milan. They’ll be filled with themed areas, pavilions and restaurants showcasing foods from around the world.
Exhibits and workshops will tackle the more pressing issues of food supply, nutrition and biodiversity.
Quirkier aspects of EXPO Milan 2015 include a Future Food District and an official mascot named Foody (who looks like a walking head of lettuce accessorized with fruit).
A lineup of concerts and performances is on tap for the expo’s duration. And EXPO Milan 2015 gets off to a glamorous start with a runway show by Giorgio Armani and concert by Andrea Bocelli.
In Los Angeles recently to promote Italian-American trade, Italian ambassador Claudio Bisogniero spoke enthusiastically about the expo to invited media.
“It’s a great initiative we have in store for Italy, Europe and the world. It’s all about healthy food and agriculture. It will be a chance to discuss major challenges the world has. And, of course, we’re all looking forward to a spectacular U.S. pavilion,” Bisogniero tells Travel Agent.