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Italy: I tested the EXPO Milano 2015 for you

From May 1st until October 31st, 2015


The EXPO Milano that began on May 1st and will take place until October 31st is on full force. The theme (Nourishing the Planet, Energy for Life) is more or less respected, but some countries (France included) are making strong efforts to emphasize the theme. It is a shame that the closing hours are very elastic because most of the stands draw the curtain right at 9 pm. Whereas, officially, they should be closing at 10:30 pm and the evening tickets are sold for an entrance that starts at 7pm!



France is making a particular effort to respect the theme “Nourishing the Planet, Energy for Life.” (photo JDL)
France is making a particular effort to respect the theme “Nourishing the Planet, Energy for Life.” (photo JDL)
As a very popular event, the Universal Expo attracts, every 5 years, hundreds of thousands of visitors.

The countries, including the most unexpected (Vatican, Monaco), make particular efforts to attend this event that presents a great promotion opportunity.

This Friday May 15th, 2015, the weather is quite uncertain in Milan and it should not get better according to the weather forecast. Access to RHO Fiera Expo, the huge expositions park of Milano, is greatly facilitated by the subway that is accessible from the center of Milano.

An “event” ticket for 5 euros, provides a roundtrip ride on the M1 line. Plan around half an hour for the trip that goes through around fifteen stops. The subway, clean and operational, emphasizes standing up, with only a few lateral seats.

Once arrived, you are not there yet. In fact, a few hundred meters separate the terminal to the first entrance of the Expo. In total, expect two (very serious) security controls before entering within the grounds of the exhibit.

A map of the space is hard to come by. No one will offer you one, an echo to the sustainability theme?

However, the organizers have set up a wifi network at a great rate, since it is free, and that includes a presentation of the event, agenda, hours… well done!

Enough to amplify the buzz on the event because dozens (hundreds?) of thousands of photos, selfies, and other videos are posted daily on social networks. No stand (amongst those visited) had the “good” idea of forbidding amateurs from photographing their content.

However, it seems that many countries are looking for every means to absorb their investment, because bars, cafés, restaurants, and boutiques multiply more and more throughout the editions.

The expo is a wonderful touristic window

Italy: I tested the EXPO Milano 2015 for you
However, wine, cuisine, or artisanal specialties are far from being a deal. At moments even, we feel like we’re in Michelin rated restaurant with how expensive the rates are… As a compromise, fountains of sparkling or flat water are available for free to the visitors.

While some participants (Israel, France, Spain, Chile… just to cite a few), have made particular efforts to respect the theme “Nourishing the planet,” others couldn’t care less.

For them, the EXPO is a wonderful touristic window and at times we feel like we’re in a tourism trade-fair.

This is the case of Slovenia for instance, that recruited students and professionals to (efficiently) promote the destination. All fluent in Dante’s language, they sell the country and its advantages with powerful charm and efficacy.

Others, like the Sudan, have contented themselves with just a few pictures on the walls and have transformed their space into a souk. A bit of a shame when we know how much of an investment such an international presence signifies…

360° screens, technological innovations, augmented reality, breathtaking videos… The EXPO is a sample of what’s done best in terms of images. This is strategic since the architecture of the pavillons is in fact the first impression the exhibiters give to the public.

An EXPO that keeps its promises

Italy: I tested the EXPO Milano 2015 for you
In this aspect, some of them stand out and (cocorico) France is by far clearly included. Inspired (?) by the protective shade of the Vatican, its pavillon, that is entirely built and assembled in laminated wood panels, is a sort of elegant and sensual wave in which can be found various pots, pans, wine bottles, cheeses niched in its cozy womb…

But the spectacle is on the outside as well with a spectacular vegetable garden where diverse cereals, strawberries, zucchinis, tomatoes, olive trees, aromatic herbs are carefully being cultivated. Breathtaking!

In short, this EXPO keeps all of its promises. The logistic stays coherent, everything seems well organized, and the influx is canalized efficiently. For those who have planned to only visit for one day must make a selection of stands because the most popular ones, such as that of the United Arabic Emirates, require a wait of a few dozen minutes.

Tip: start the visit with the less busy countries and wait until the end of the day for the others. But not too long, because to my great surprise, at 9pm, all of the countries closed their pavillon…with the notable exception of Azerbaijan!

Yet, the speakers announce that the closing time is at 10:30 pm and the evening tickets are sold for an entrance that begins at 7pm!

As expected, the weather did not improve. It is raining hard and the temperature dropped violently. Despite the thousands of bystanders walking through the aisles on the quest for an (improbably) opened pavillon, the Cirque du Soleil show that was scheduled for 9:30pm is canceled.

An email informs the visitors (including myself) who were planning to attend. They will be automatically reimbursed, without doing anything more, if they reserved online. Well done!

(This test was entirely financed by TourMaG.com and is not the result of an invitation.)

EXPO: Practical FAQ

1. What are the hours of operation?
The EXPO Milano 2015 opened to the public on May 1st. The opening hours are the following: from 10:00 am to 11:00pm. There are discounted tickets to visit the site at night, a special Family Pack, and discounts for people over 65 and students.

2. How to get to the site of the exhibit?
The site of the EXPO Milano 2015 site is located on the North-West of Milano. It is directly linked to all the airports of the city and by the metro, car, train, the private train Gran Turismo, taxi, or plane.

3. Where can we park a car?
There are four parking lots accessible only by reservation: Merlata (next to the access South Merlata,) Arese (linked by the free shuttle to the access East Roserio,) Fiera Milano (linked by the free shuttle to the access West Florenza,) Trenno (linked by the free shuttle to the access East Roserio.)

4. How can we get around the site of the exhibit?
On a zone of a million meters squared, it is not always easy to get around by foot. To get from one point to another to a farther away area of the exposition site, the free shuttle People Mover is made available to you.

5.What services can be expected for visitors with disabilities?
The organization of EXPO Milano 2015 is accessible to all. The people with limited mobility can have a discounted ticket. Same goes for the accompanying visitor under conditions.

6. How to best organize a visit with the family?
Identification bracelets, a nursery zone, strollers can be borrowed, and other services are available.

7. What can we eat and where are the restaurants?
EXPO Milano 2015 offers an opportunity to discover countries through their tastes and cuisine specialties. More than 150 restaurants, bars, corner food & beverage, kiosques, and street food sellers are available to you.

8. Who to contact for more information?
The Contact Center respond to the number 020-2015 and works from Monday to Saturday from 8am to 8pm and on Sundays from 9am to 8pm. On Twitter, the Social Info Point @ AskExpo gives you an answer in 140 characters.

9. How can schools organize a visit of Expo Milano 2015?
Thanks to the Progetto Scuola (School Project), discounted tickets are reserved to students.

10. What are the services available on the site of the exposition?
Expo Milano 2015 is a small city with stores, boutiques, service zones, beauty pharmacies, a gym, banks, and ATMs, smoking areas and a tobacco shop. There are also police authorities, a first aid stand, a lost and found office, and orientation services.

All these informations are available on the website expo2015.org.

Written by Jean Da Luz translated by Joséphine Foucher the 21/05/2015
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