On the Saturday that I was flying out of Milan, I packed up all of my things, checked out of my hostel, and put my bag in a locker so that I didn’t have to lug it around with me during my final day at the World Expo. I only had a few hours to visit the expo and there were still certain pavilions that I wanted to see.
When I exited the train station at Rho Fiera, I was surprised to see how crowded the ticket booths and security lines were. I should have known that there would be a lot of people coming to the expo since it was the weekend, but it was such a big difference from two days before. I eventually got through it, but I discovered that the line I waited in was much more tame than the other entrance that was closer to the actual expo site. It was pretty unbelievable and I was just glad that I didn’t have to deal with that mess.
Speaking of messes, the mascot of the expo was this slightly-horrifying fruit-and-vegetable monster called Foody. Foody was definitely not as charming as Shanghai’s mascot, Haibao. There was a parade featuring Foody and his friends, but I didn’t actually get a chance to watch it. I did come across some of the floats, so I took a picture with the menacing banana-mouthed creature.
One of the things that I had on my to-do list was to check out the Palazzo Italia in the Italy section of the expo. That failed immensely. There was a MASSIVE, MASSIVE line to enter the building and the estimated wait time from the end was five hours. FIVE HOURS. I didn’t have that much time to spend waiting in line, so I just ditched that idea. That’s twice already that I’ve gone to a world expo and failed to see the host country’s pavilion. How lame could I be?
I fought through the crowd and headed to the Tree of Life instead to take some pictures of it during the daytime. There was another show that played as well, this time utilizing some flowers that popped out of the holes in the tree. It wasn’t as cool as the light show, but it was still nice to see.
After the show, I consulted my map for ideas on what to check out next. I was feeling a little discouraged by the crowd since it looked like everything had lines that would take forever and a day to get through, but I ended up going to the “Bio-Mediterraneum” (that’s what it is called on my map) cluster nearby in search of the World Expo Museum pavilion.
I had a hard time finding the World Expo Museum, so I wound up going to the EGYPT pavilion instead. I’ve seen a lot of Egypt-related things in London and Paris already, so why not continue that in Milan? Like several other pavilions, the parts that stuck out about this one are not related to food at all. I guess that coolest thing was that I got to try on an oculus rift for the first time. When I put on the headset, I was transported inside a virtual reality museum. I probably looked a little goofy from an outsider perspective, but a lot of people wanted to try that thing out.
It was also in the Egypt pavilion where I had a tiny scare when I thought I lost my passport. No, not my US passport. My expo passport! I was so sad and a little frantic, but I ended up finding it…in my front pocket. I kept taking it out and putting it away that I ended up losing track of where it actually was. That passport moved between two different pockets in my backpack to four different pockets in my jacket. Somehow, it wound up in my pants. Heh, that’s what she said.
Besides finding my passport, I also managed to find the WORLD EXPO MUSEUM pavilion and I can’t believe I missed it before. The pavilion had a lot of information on expo history and there were a few books from past world expos, including the 1867 exposition in Paris. There was also a tribute to food that was popularized at previous world’s fairs and expositions such as the ice cream cone and the hot dog (with bun).
From the World Expo Museum, I decided to make the trek all the way back to the entrance so that I could check out PAVILION ZERO, one of the core thematic areas of the expo. In Shanghai, I really liked the theme pavilions during their expo and this was no exception. The line to enter the building moved by surprisingly quick and visitors were greeted by this huge archive that represented the knowledge humans have gained over time. Pavilion Zero was essentially about the evolution of humankind’s relationship with food, which was really cool.
Walking through the archives would lead you to a large screen showcasing short movies from around the world that connect to the expo theme. After that were rooms that focused on plant biodiversity and animal domestication. The animal domestication room was interesting in particular since it had models of various animals that have been domesticated at some point in time, including horses, sheep, camels, ostriches, bison, and kangaroos. The walls featured elephants and other animals that haven’t been completely domesticated, but are close enough.
Other areas focused on agriculture and the transforming of fields into farmland before then shifting to the food stock market and a note on how much food goes wasted or lost each year due to consumer actions or inadequate harvesting and processing techniques. As it should, this pavilion really drove home the theme of the expo more than any other pavilion at the site.
Since I got a chance to look at the evolution of food production in the past, I decided that I really ought to also visit the other theme pavilion that focused on food of the future — the FUTURE FOOD DISTRICT. The pavilion was sponsored by Coop, which, according to Wikipedia, is “a system of Italian consumers’ cooperatives which operates the largest supermarket chain in Italy”. The main attraction in this area was the Supermarket of the Future.
At first, when I entered the building, I thought it was just one giant store and was a little disappointed. I was completely wrong. Well, not really. It WAS a giant store, but it wasn’t JUST a giant store. There were aisles packed with real groceries that you could actually go shopping for, but the really, really awesome part was that there were these screens above the food that would give you a ton of information about what you wanted to buy, just by pointing at a certain product. Point at the potatoes and it will tell you things like its nutritional value, carbon footprint, and where it was grown. It felt completely revolutionary and I did feel like I was in an actual grocery store from the future.
This building was super impressive and I really hope these things can be implemented in the future soon.
I ended up buying a juice drink, though stupidly enough, I didn’t even check the details of the one thing that I bought. Check-out was still handled by humans though.
It was almost time to leave the expo to get my things back at the hostel, but there was still one more thing that I wanted to do — eat some Italian food! I headed over to the EATALY section of the expo, which was divided into different regions from Italy which had their own menus. I ended up getting some orecchiette maritate from the Puglia region, which basically comprises Italy’s “heel”.
I finished up my food, looked at the time, and realized that I NEEDED TO GO. I rushed out of the expo and back to my hostel before making the journey towards the airport. Time to head to Barcelona!