Expo Exposé

“You did it! You did it! You said that you would do it, and indeed you did!” as they sing in My Fair Lady. The doubts were many, skepticism abounded. The challenges were remarkable, and yet… the Milan Expo 2015 was a success. Come on, it was! Millions of people visited, the message of ‘Feed the Planet’ got out there, the pavilions were stunning.

I visited twice: once in June (marvelous, see my post: Che mondo sarebbe senza Nutella? or A world without Italy) and again in October. Two completely different experiences.

June: no line to enter, security check done in less than 5 minutes, no lines to enter pavilions except at the Italian Pavilion where I waited for 35 minutes.


October: half an hour on line to get in, security check like an airport on Thanksgiving weekend, pavilions with 2- and 3-hour waiting lines… That got worse as October wore one.

If you don’t believe me and if you understand Italian, just listen to fabulous Italian comic Maurizio Crozza sing about it!

Throngs of people on the central walkway. Hard to get an idea of just how unbearably overwhelming the crowds were.

No one believed in it – that’s why at the beginning it was visitable. In the end, when the good word spread, throngs clogged every entrance. Interminable lines prevented people from seeing even one pavilion during their visit. Lines of 4 or more hours to get into a pavilion that takes 20 minutes to visit… does that make sense?

But lots of things did not make sense at the Milan Expo…

What to make of Dante Ferretti’s contribution? They’re worried about islands of plastic floating in the Pacific? I’m worried about these plastic copies of real food…



What is this? An Italian interpretation of a Japanese restaurant? Simil-food? Dante Ferretti’s won so many Oscars, you really have to ask yourself why he would agree to have his name appear on such a kitsch display of fakery… And yet…


And in the fake garlic and tomatoes category, the winner is…


Italy is the land of wine, right? So what is this?


It’s embarrassing, that’s what!

And no place to sit! Instead of all that fake plastic produce, why not put some benches for the throngs of visitors?

Yours truly taking advantage of a much appreciated resting spot in Kuwait

But there were some fabulous pavilions. Take a look:


That’s Qatar, Morocco and Nepal.

And my favorite, Kuwait, with the curtain of water drops that somehow hung in the air just long enough to form words… in three languages: Arabic, English and Italian. Water is the key to survival.


There were some pavilions that just left you asking ‘Why?’ Like the U.S. pavilion.

I am not making this up!!!

In good ol’ US of A American style, they proudly proclaim: Food Truck Nation!  With an exclamation point. What was the theme of this Expo again?

But the burning question is: did anybody outside of Italy hear about the Expo and want to come? If a tree falls in the woods, and there’s no one there to hear it…

In October the visitors were school groups and retired people – all Italian, to a person. But did Italy need to spend all this money on a temporary exhibit to tell ourselves about our great biodiversity and that slow food is better than fast food? We knew that already. We wanted to get this message to the world…

Albero della vita / Tree of Life

With this symbol, one of the permanent parts of Expo 2015 that will remain in Milan, the Tree of Life represents all the hope that is and was Milan Expo 2015.

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