Lombardy,  travel

Reflecting on Milan Expo 2015 #Travel

7 Memorable Pavilions from the World Expo in #Milan, Italy 

Milan, Italy was home of The World Exposition from May 1-October 31, 2015. The expo theme was “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life.” All members of the United Nations were invited to participate, as well as other Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and companies with a stake in the global conversations on food and agriculture.  There were over 145 countries that were at the forefront to demonstrate how their nation is responding to agriculture, biodiversity and technology in regards to food production and sustainability. As Milan Expo 2015 draws to a close, I thought it would be fitting to reflect and recap some of my highlights.
Now, on my last visit to Italy, although I spent most of my time in the central regions, I concluded that I would be remiss if I was in Italy again, and did not check out this expo thing.  So I did just that. I purchased my Milan Expo pass and headed north to Milan. I did not know what to expect, but I must say that I was completely blown away by what I saw.  

How on earth would I tackle the world, as it were, in such a short time?  My goal was to visit all of the pavilions of the countries that I was less likely to visit any time soon.  My method worked to an extent, but it was all so fascinating that I ended up just visiting as many pavilions as I could.  For example, as I live in the U.S., I was deliberately trying to avoid visiting that pavilion. Yet, I had to see what we Americans had to say for ourselves. The U.S.A. pavilion was a showcase of American talent, business and cuisine, such as hot dogs, pizza and other typical American food.  

I found myself wanting to see everything, and I certainly tried to. I tasted vodka in Russia, listened to Cuban music and threw back a mojito, purchased spices in Yemen, sipped delicious coffee in Cote d’ Ivoire, had a cocktail in Poland and ate some creole rice and beans in Haiti.  I went from one country to the next with ease-a real traveler’s dream!   While I thought the whole thing was spectacular, I’ll just highlight a few of the pavilions that hit the mark for me and specify why.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)

Theme: Food for Thought-Shaping and Sharing the Future.
It was clear that, despite the challenges of feeding their people and the planet, the Emiratis are innovative.  It was interesting and enlightening to learn of how they define sustainability and are finding solutions for the effects of global climate change. The wait and the lines for the United Arab Emirates were unbelievably long, spiraling around the whole pavilion. Once inside, it was easy to see why. In fact, the hosts, dressed in their traditional clothing and the design itself demanded attention. The pavilion resembled its territory with tall, curvy, rippled walls and desert sand dunes.  The landscaping also made visitors feel as if they were in the UAE. This pavilion was actually designed for continued use after the Expo leaves Milan, and it was easy to understand the rationale. Afterwards, the pavilion will be dismantled and then reassembled in Masdar City, UAE.


Theme: The Land of Unlimited Possibilities

Upon entering this pavilion, I felt as though I had been transported. The music, artwork, clothing, design and smell of the Kenyan food took hold. The ambiance was great!  I moved to Kenyan tunes, and marveled as I learned more about their diverse cultures and geography.  This pavilion also highlighted their athletes, tourism and innovations in energy and technology.  I relaxed and broadened my horizons as I drank Kenya tea AND strong Kenyan (“black gold”) coffee.  I actually purchases a few boxes of Kenya gold tea to take home.  I also snacked on Kenyan samosas before heading to another pavilion. Delightful.     


Theme: Water and Lotus

The Vietnamese pavilion sought to emphasize the importance of water, which is essential for all living things.  The lotus, is the Vietnamese national flower and it was at the forefront of this exhibit not just due to its beauty, but because the lotus also functions as an agent to purify water.  This pavilion truly highlighted their commitment to trees, plants, nature and the environment as a whole. This was manifested in the pavilion’s design, as it was made of bamboo columns and included the Bamboo waterside restaurant.  Vietnam wanted to encourage a
connection to nature despite the advances in technology.  This was conveyed by the design itself, as well as the use of videos, graphics, catalogs, art and shows surrounding water, the lotus flower, Vietnamese food and culture. The beauty of this pavilion almost blinded me to the lines to get in. Almost.


Theme: The Fields of Tomorrow

Israel’s pavilion included a vertical garden wall decorated with plants and flowers to show the world that Israel is not just a dry, arid land.  The exhibit used 3D movies and LED’s to show the history of Israel’s agriculture.  The pavilion also offered the delicious Israeli fare, in which I partook, olives, couscous, hummus, falafel and Israeli beer.  Yum. I also got to practice a few of the Hebrew phrases in my repertoire.


Theme: The Land of Opportunities

Lines.  Again.  Not only was this yet another pavilion with seemingly endless lines, but the only thing I ever knew about Kazakhstan was…Borat. Seriously, and I know that says a lot. Therefore, I was seeking enlightenment at this pavilion.  From the outside, I should have known it would be worth the wait.  It absolutely was. The design was Jetson-like and futuristic. This multi-leveled exhibit used film, simulations and tours to educate visitors in an honest fashion about Kazakhstan’s strengths and weaknesses regarding food and energy.  They even offered visitors a taste of fermented milk from a native mare. While that was interesting, the Kazakhstan exhibit had a pool with Kazakh-bred sturgeon, and used this as an opportunity to open the conversation on endangered fish species.  The Kazakh’s were all about protecting natural resources and opportunities for sustainability.  This nation is actually the 9th largest in world, and there was certainly much to learn. The lines were fully worth the wait.

Netherlands (Holland)

Theme: Share, Grow, Live

I ate lots of delectable treats at the Netherland pavilion.  I ate Dutch meatballs and Dutch french fries. I was Dutch for an hour or so. That was the highlight.  Need I say more?

Ok, there’s more.  The pavilion for the Netherlands (Holland) focused on Sharing, Growing and Living.  They emphasized sharing solutions to global challenges regarding food and energy and the need for collaboration.  Growth and development of food production and agriculture was also highlighted.  It was interesting to learn that the Netherlands are the second largest global food exporter, so sustainability is certainly a goal.  Living and offering a better quality of life was yet another focal point.  I was very happy to spend time here in Holland!

Ok, wait.  Did you think we could go to Milan Expo in Italy and not have a “wining hour?”  I know you knew better.

VinItaly-Wine Pavilion

Theme: Vino-A Taste of Italy

VinItaly was located, of course, in the Italian Pavilion.  Knowing my love for Italy and all things Italian, this is where I spent most of my time. I was said that Milan Expo 2015 was the first Universal Exposition to have an entire pavilion dedicated to wine.  It’s Italy, so of course!

The pavilion was built over three floors and provided a multi-sensory wine experience.  It used art, holograms and computer technology to discuss the history and future of wine-production.  La Biblioteca del Vino (Wine Library) and tasting room were a major highlights of this pavilion.  This exhibit truly paid homage to Italian wine.

For more photos, please view our Milan Expo 2015 board on Pinterest for more photos.

Without a doubt, this Universal Exposition left an indelible mark and I am so happy that I was able to experience it.

What are your thoughts about Milan Expo 2015?  What were your favorite pavilions?

About The Wining Hour
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Planted, harvested and aged in NY. I have a background in education and marketing, with a love and passion for travel...and all things wine. In addition to writing about wine, I also maintain an online wine boutique (thewininghour.com) that caters to the winelover, as well as the weekly vinous winechat (#WiningHourChat) on Twitter (see page for more info).

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