Hello, world! 🇮🇹

July 3, 2015 (9y ago)

You might have heard the World's Fair is taking place this year.

You know, the ones where countries come together to show their best side for everyone else to behold.

World's Fairs originated around the industrial revolution and went out of fashion after the war, perhaps mirroring the ebb and flow of our global outlook.

Lately, there has been a surge in interest for holding what are now called Expos, with Shanghai raising the bar in 2010 to one-up Beijing's Olympics.

2015 is the year of Milan, uniting 140 countries and dozens of non-governmental organizations & corporate partners under a long roof in the outskirts of the city.

I've been following the event a while. Recently I decided to have enough affinities with the Expo to actually go visit it.

I spent two days roaming pavilions and hope the photos below sufficiently capture my experience.


Kuwait and their ship designed to sail sand dunes

The German pavilion has efficient escalators (and bratwurst)

Ecuador with a colorful, apparently knitted pavilion

USA: "American Food 2.0" (and the recurring theme of vertical agriculture)

Holland did their thing by not actually having a pavilion. Instead, they put on a festival with DJs, Virtual Reality and food trucks.

(Now, a word from our sponsors)

Vanke, the largest real estate developer in China commissioned Daniel Libeskind for a pavilion with scales ridding the air of pollution

Uruguay constantly crowded

Malaysia with cocoon-inspired geodesic domes

South Korea took visitors on a virtual tour and served kimchi dishes in a seated restaurant

Angola showing their newfound might

Brazil might have gone metaphorical by having visitors trudge up a mesh

Flags provide an opportunity for brushing up your geography

Italy built a 350m corridor showcasing regional cuisines (to make Italians actually try something different)

Developing countries organized around food groups like rice, coffee and cereals

Decumano from above

The site measures 1 square kilometer, or half the size of Monaco.

UK-designed beehive (photo: Mari Di Pilla)

UAE photobomb

Turkish gardens and architecture (photo: Mari Di Pilla)

Queues at most experiential pavilions


Most country pavilions offer culinary souvenir shops

Feeding the planet

“Feeding the planet, energy for life" was selected as theme for the Expo. In other words: food everywhere (a global food court twice the size of the Vatican).

Meals are served in restaurants and from trucks. Prices are fair, considering the logistics. We sampled ruthlessly and found flavors genuine, but toned down for global appeal.

Everything below cost between €5 – €10.

Indonesia: Nasi goreng platter

Chile: Sweet manjar pancake

Chile: Avocado-tomato-pork sandwich

Morocco: Devilishly delectable sweets

Japan: Chicken Teriyaki burger from MOS Burger

Morocco: Veggie sandwich

Netherlands: Bread & cheese (the best bread & cheese you've ever tasted)

Vietnam: Spring rolls

Bangladesh: fried rice

Netherlands: Kale & fruit green juice

Mexico: Mezcal

Morocco: Sweet mint tea

UK: J&B honey whisky

McDonald’s: Ginseng espresso

Turkey: Coffee

Gambia: Beef stew

Italy: Piadina romagnola

Zimbabwe: Crocodile burgers (which I regrettably mistook for a prank)

The Tree of life

Capping the experience at Expo is the Tree of Life, a 40 meter structure at the end of the Italian pavilion. The tree breathes lights throughout the day and comes alive at night with a display of music and colors.

The Tree follows the host tradition of building memorable constructions to iconize the event.

1886, 1958, 1962

Supermarket of the future

As part of the food future theme, local supermarket chain Coop put together a high-tech supermarket of the future. Product metadata is displayed on overhead screens by pointing at them. Robot arms serve fresh apples. The store is fully stocked and provides self-checkout at the exit.

Concept Kitchen 2025

Sweden is not officially present at the Expo, which did not stop IKEA from building one in Milan instead. With a promise of showcasing a 2025 kitchen, I was pretty much obliged to visit.

Traditional IKEA cuisine.

That's all! See you in Dubai 2020.

Fuji X100T