I promised to blog more about the Milan EXPO so this is it.
My first reactions were recorded here. (link)
This post is primarily intended for those who are planning a visit.
One of the smartest design decisions is to line everything up along one street (the Decumano). It will take some genius to get lost even though there are many dozens of buildings. Once you get to the far end of the Decumano, there is a smaller road that runs perpendicular to it, which houses the buildings that showcase individual regions of Italy. This smaller road leads to the Tree of Life structure, where I found those delightful, swirling chairs. Here they are again:
The EXPO site is in the Milan suburbs. It is easily accessible by the Metro (subway) or by train. Either means of transportation takes about 20 minutes. The train takes riders right to the entrance, saving 10 minutes of walking from the subway stop, but depending on your origin, the train may be inconvenient. I later discovered that there are two subway exits: one exit links to an overpass while the other one to an underpass. Choose carefully if under/over makes a difference for you.
You need to carry a printed copy of your ticket. Your bags will be scanned. Liquids are allowed and are also scanned. This process is painless unless you fight with the crowds that appear at 7 pm because of reduced-price entry. Most pavilions close by 9 pm, leaving only restaurants open.
The food is great if you bring realistic expectations. You’re at a fair, not a gourmet food market. I was very happy with what I ate, and here are some highlights.
Eataly is there in a big way. They have 10 or 12 restaurants, representing different regions in Italy. Eataly is this high-end supermarket / restaurant chain that started in Italy and also now have stores in New York, Boston and Chicago. Not spectacular but way better than your average meal. If you want Italian food, you won’t go wrong here. I particularly like the Tuscany (Toscana) menu, serving two of my favorites: panzarella (bread salad), and pici (an extra-thick spaghetti) with duck ragu. You have to walk all the way to the back of the Eataly row to find the Toscana section.
Inside the Pavilions. You can fill yourself by sampling snacks as you run around the pavilions. I recommend this strategy because your schedule will be dominated by trying to get into certain pavilions (or more pavilions). The food is going to be hit or miss. Austria (left) has great stuff. France looks good. Belgium serves pub grub and beer. Holland has food trucks, mostly fast food. I liked the summer rolls in the Vietnam pavilion (right).
Russia was giving away caviar on toast, which attracted a mob. Heard Chile has good food. Mexico has a food line. If you like cannoli, go to the “Civil Society” building and visit the Sicilian vendor.
You can always go to McDonald’s for American fast food. There are also various places where you can get Italian fast food, such as simple pastas and pizzas.
Several pavilions have proper sit-down restaurants. I can’t vouch for them as I didn’t try them. The French pavilion for example has a restaurant upstairs. I think Russia also has a restaurant.
Gelato. When I am in Italy, I am eating gelato every day. Gelato is godsend on these hot summer days. There are many places to get gelato at the EXPO. My favorite is Pernigotti, which has a booth in the chocolate area. I also got gelato behind the Israel pavilion. There is a small stand outside the Italy Pavilion. Also across from the Italy Pavilion, the Love It food store serves gelato on the far side. Granita (slushed ice drinks) would have been even better but I didn’t find any worth mentioning here.
Espresso. The safe and great options include Lavazza and Illy. Lavazza is in the Italian regions street, which runs perpendicular to the Decumano. Lavazza has some great-looking tarts and cakes, in addition to coffee. Illy is in the coffee exhibition area.
I also enjoyed France (most on-subject), Morocco, Slow Food, and especially the chocolate area.
I didn’t make it to Japan, Kazakhstan, China and Italy. Those attracted excellent reviews but the lines were too long. Several countries (Japan, Kazakhstan, etc.) produce staged experiences, which means once you are inside, you have to spend at least 30-45 minutes.