Everything You Need to Know About EXPO Milano 2015

A few weeks have gone by since the official opening of the Expo, definitely the event of the year (or perhaps decade) for Milano. All the VIPs came out for the inauguration on April 30-May 1 and now the dust has settled, both literally and figuratively, on the Expo site. The last pavilions are being finished and the volunteers and workers have had time to get into their routines welcoming and assisting visitors. That makes now the best time to go!

So you’ve decided to be a part of this once-in-a-lifetime experience. But before you go, you need some basic info on when to gowhere to buy tickets, how to get there and how to plan your day. All these details are available on the Expo website, of course, but we’ve put together a one-page summary for easily access, just for students!

Avoid the kids and wait a few weeks (or go at night)
The Expo is open every day 10am to 11pm, from May 1-October 31. That gives you lots of options for when to go. One thing to keep in mind is that during these first few weeks lots of local schools are bringing schoolchildren to the site for a field trip. Want to avoid the throngs of kids? Just wait until school is no longer in session: the last day of class is June 8. Keep in mind that school will start up again in the fall in mid-September.
If you can’t wait that long, by all means, brave the crowds. Or just go on an evening ticket, which is super-cheap (see info below). The field trips will be over long before 7pm!

Egea sign for Expo ticketsSkip the ticket line and get tickets in advance
Student tickets can’t be purchased online because you need to show your ID to prove that you’re a student in order to get the discounted price. The official Expo price for students up to 25 years old is €29. You should buy your tickets at a the ExpoGate (in Piazza Cordusio, near the Castle Sforzesco fountain) or another authorized vendor in order to avoid waiting in line at the Expo site. (Be aware that even if you skip the ticket line at the Expo, however, you’ll still have to wait to pass through the airport-like security, so be prepared to queue up!)
All students enrolled at a Milan university have an even bigger discount for one ticket: €10! And Bocconi students get a bigger reduction still, with a price of just €7. Bocconi students should go to the Egea bookstore between 10-25 June to get this discounted ticket.
Another low-cost option is the €5 evening price for admission after 7pm. This a good option to get a feel for the Expo itself, but keep in mind a few important caveats: lines can be long for buying tickets (so, again, buy tickets in advance either online or at a ticket reseller in Milan) and some pavilion activities may be closed in the evening. Restaurants, of course, will be open, so you can choose one of the many international cuisines for your dinner. This is also a great way to enjoy the famous installation the Tree of Life, designed by the Expo’s artistic director Marco Balich, because the artwork features a spectacular lights show. Also, a few of the pavilions put on music and entertainment during the later hours, so it’s a pleasant way to the spend the evening. Turnstiles for entrance close at 9pm and the site closes at 11pm, but there’s talk of keeping the Expo open until midnight on the weekends. Yet another reason to take advantage of the cheap evening ticket!

Photo from Expo2015 website

Leave the car, take the subway
If you happen to have a car in Milan or if you’re subscribed to one of the many car sharing services in the city, you might be tempted to drive to the Expo. Resist the temptation! Parking is super expensive (€12 per car), advance reservations are required and you’ll need to take a shuttle to get from the parking lot to the pavilions.
The best way to get to the Expo is by taking one of the subway lines that stop there. Coming from the city, the red line (M1) in the Rho Fiera Expo direction is probably the easiest option. Other less-used lines are part of the Regional Rail Service, just look for S5, S6, S11 and S14. Remember, however, that Rho is outside the city limits and your usual monthly pass to use the public transportation won’t cover your trip. You’ll still need to get another ticket to get to the Expo: a round-trip ticket is €5. Complete info is available on the ATM website.

Internal scene with net
Photo from Expo2015 website

Channel your inner Indiana Jones and choose wisely
There are a total of 96 pavilions representing 143 countries at the Expo. That means that you absolutely won’t be able to see everything in one day. So choose wisely! You can visit the pavilion of your home country or that of your friends. Or maybe go to the places representing countries you may not get a chance to actually visit in the near future. Or make your choice simply based on the attractions at the pavilions: a full-on forest in Austria, a fun net walkway in Brazil, a slide in Germany, an immense plant wall in Israel, the scarcity project in Switzerland or the sand-like architecture in the United Arab Emirates. You can study up on everything the Expo has to offer by checking out their website.
Remember, the area is open from 10am to 11pm every day, so you can certainly pack in a lot during that time… but not everything!

Skip breakfast and come hungry
Remember how there are a total of 96 different pavilions? There are just about that many choices of where and what to eat, as most countries also offer a few options for visitors to taste the local cuisine. Prices vary greatly, from a few euros for a sandwich to a full meal of €40-50 euros. Some highlights: empanadas in Argentina, arepas in Columbia, foie gras in France, fish burgers in Holland, satay in Indonesia, kimchi in Korea, margaritas in Mexico, arancini at the Mediterranean cluster, lobster rolls in the US . Of course, this is just a small taste of all the Expo has to offer. So bring a few extra euros and an empty stomach and you won’t be disappointed!

Where to Eat a Home-Cooked Meal in Italy

Italy is especially famous for its history, art, upholding tradition and the importance of the family. What happens when you combine all these things? One answer is that culinary culture is produced, something that Italy is also famous for the world over. Tourists visit different parts of Italy every year and enjoy the many traditions found all over the country, satisfying various international palates.

Most tourists enjoy great meals and snacks at restaurants, trattorias, pizzerias or caffés. Unless they have local family or friends, they generally only hear stories about the great home-cooked meals many Italian families enjoy together, often gathering around the table on a Sunday afternoon.

Without trying to befriend strangers just to be invited to their homes, visitors can look into an evening with the Home Food organization, which matches people interested in learning about Italian cooking with the true experts: home cooks located all over the country specialized in regional cuisine who open their homes to interested guests.

This is no chef-organized cooking class with groups of 15-20 students each at their own kitchenette work station. But you might learn more at a Home Food evening than at one of these cooking classes, just by watching the home cooks at work and learning about the history of the ingredients and the various techniques used.

Guests need to register on the website (available in both Italian and English) before signing up for a meal, which generally cost around €50 per person, including wines. After registering, the next step is to find an upcoming event in your area. (Remember that Milano is located in the Lombardy region!). There are several participants in the city with a few different menu options to choose from, but be aware that since hosts are not professional cooks, they may be available only at certain times of the year.

When browsing the association’s website, you’ll notice that the women hosts are called Cesarine, in honor of the ancient Roman term used to refer to an important leader.

The Cesarine ladies use traditional recipes and products – no fusion or new age experiments – and stay as close to the original as possible. They also all have a passion for cooking, knowledge and understanding of the traditional recipes of your region or of Italy, to have the desire to share those recipes, to possess good communication skills, and the time and domestic space in which to receive Guests.

So when you have a hankering to eat a traditional plate of cassoeula in Milano, the real salama da sugo in Ferrara or the most authentic amatriciana pasta in Rome, all using the best local products, be sure to check out Home Food and enjoy!

Mud Swedish Café

After spending some time in Milano, you might not always be in the mood for the excellent Italian food that is renowned all over the world: pizza, pasta and risotto at lunch and dinner and croissants and cappuccino for breakfast. To get a taste of cuisine from other nationalities, there are lots of Chinese restaurants and good Turkish kebab places around town. But, outside the Ikea cafeteria, another country is not always well-represented in the cosmopolitan city of Milano: Sweden.

MUD is a self-proclaimed art café that’s only been open for a few months, but it has already developed its own following among locals and students (check out their FB page, which currently has over 1,000 loyal fans).

Very close to the Bocconi campus, just down Viale Bligny, it’s a family-run business with a Swedish woman in the kitchen and her son serving. The inside is small and furnishings are partly Ikea and very homey, with some artwork from local students and artists on the walls (hence the “art café”).

The menu offers a good selection of salads and sandwiches, and EXCELLENT desserts, so it’s a great place to go even if you just want to pop in for an afternoon snack. The service is a little slow, however, so it’s probably not the best bet for a 30-minute break between classes. But don’t worry, it’ll be worth the wait!

Nottingham Forest: A Cocktail Bar in Milano

What can be said about this bar? For one, it probably has the most expensive cocktail in Milano, the €3,500 diamond cocktail – don’t worry, other drinks are around €8-10. And the look of the place can be deceiving. From the outside, it looks like an unusual and unusually-small bar, with a small entrance and unique décor. But when you get to your table and the talented barkeeps hand you the menu, you realize that this is not your average Milano pub.

If it’s your first time at Nottingham Forest, you might feel a little overwhelmed by the big book of cocktails available (followed by a short page of food offerings). But don’t despair, because whether you want to be adventurous and choose an original, possibly smoking drink or play it safe by choosing a negroni or mojito, you probably won’t be disappointed.

The pub also has a light aperitivo during the normal happy hour time. Don’t come for the food, though, but rather the exceptional drinks prepared by trained and experienced mixologists. Influence by molecular cuisine, the bartenders even hold classes for anyone interested in how this kind of cookery has influenced bartending in recent years.

So, if you’re in the mood for a one-of-a-kind cocktail experience in Milano, this is a good option. And it’s just a 15- or 20-minute tram ride from the Bocconi campus, a great location for any UB students.

But remember, because of its small size you might have to wait to get a table, especially if you show up around 8 on a Thursday night – the prime time for a Milanese aperitivo. But trust us when we say, it’s worth the wait!

In the meantime, you can check out the Nottingham Forest Facebook or TripAdvisor pages, but skip the website, which is pretty old-school and not a good representation of the place itself.

Nottingham Forest
Viale Piave 1
Tel. +39 02.798311

I Scream for Ice Cream!

Among other things fashion, fine wine, and art are often associated with Italy lest we not forget the food, and who can for forget the best loved dessert of them all? Ice cream. Italy claims to be the inventor of ice cream (whether this is true or not is not for me to discuss here) but it certainly aided its popularization with immigrants opening parlors throughout the world.

A massive 9.2 liters are consumed per capita in Italy per year (and I’m responsible for just about half of that) and with the vast array of beautiful colors and flavors available it is easy to see why. It is consumed throughout the year, hot or cold (the weather obviously), with 54% of Italians eating it more than once a week.

With so much at stake Italians will go to great lengths so seek out artisans who produce the unique and I am here to share with you some of those secrets today. Here is a list of my top 3 gelaterias in Milan:

3) Amorino
Alzaia Naviglio Grande, 24 (Navigli area)

You will no doubt when asking for the best gelateria hear the words Grom, Grom, Grom. Grom is excellent and deserves a mention but it is not special. Amorino has a vast range of flavours with no limits with your orders, you can have as many tastes as you want for the size! If you are a fan of cinnamon (and why wouldn’t you be?) I recommend the Speculoos, it’s truly life changing!

2) Shockolat
Via Giovanni Boccaccio, 9

Located a stone’s throw from Parco Sempione and a favorite night haunt of many locals, this gelateria surely can’t be matched in terms of it’s chocolate offerings. Combined with a sumptuous pistachio this is not to be missed!

 

1) Drum roll please… Gelateria Marghera
Via Marghera, 33

This is a recent and startling discovery. After dinner with friends in the area (also recommended as there are many fine restaurants) we went in search of something sweet and were fortunate enough to find this place. On entering our eyes feasted on an orgy delectable delights. It wasn’t just the ice cream available it was the mini ice creams, ice cream cakes and other unique inventions. As a true fat kid at heart I found the choice impossible and was forced to go back for seconds. The ice cream flavors themselves are quite limited but my word…just try it!

NB: An honorable mention should go to Stick House located on Via Vigevano. This parlor specializes in ice lollys but as it is not strictly ice cream it just missed out on the list.

Cioccolati Italiani

For all you chocolate lovers out there in the city, the name of this place should be enough motivation for a visit. Cioccolati Italiani prides itself to not be just a regular ice cream place or a shop that sells chocolate, but rather a chocolate laboratory. The restaurant goers are not just there to eat dessert, but are also spectators watching the chocolate, pastries and cakes being created in real time through glass windows that look into the kitchens. Their motto is lo facciamo davanti a tutti, which roughly translates to we make it [the chocolate] in front of everyone.

Located in the heart of Milan, just a few minutes walk from the Colonne di San Lorenzo, Cioccolati Italiani is not just trying to sell delicious desserts, but is also trying to promote the culture of chocolate-making and appreciation in Milan. The place has been open for about a year now, and is open seven days a week. If we had one complaint about Cioccolati Italiani, it would probably be that their menu is just too extensive. There is so much choice and variety that it takes you ages to finally settle upon what you want to order.

In this cold, grey Milanese winter, their cioccolata calda is a must-have! Their ice creams may be slightly more expensive than the ones in other gelaterias in Milan, but the portions are larger and the chocolate is much richer, not to mention the fact that the base of the cone is filled with liquid chocolate. The rest of their prices are also reasonable in terms of the quality of food being served. We also recommend you to try any of their cakes or crepes. And for those few of you who dislike all sweets, fear not, they even have a whole range of savory food, which is also quite delicious.

Cioccolati Italiani
Via Edmondo De Amicis, 25
20123 Milano
Tel: 02 89406651

Bar Magenta

If we had to narrow down one place in Milan that exudes the spirit of the city, it would probably be Bar Magenta. Established in 1907, it claims to be the oldest bar in Milan and lives up to its reputation of being one of the best pubs to spend the evening in. When you step into the bar for the first time, it feels like you are transported back into the 1900s because – apart from the swanky television screens showing football matches – not much of the interior seems to have changed since the place was first established.

It would be unfair to label the place as a run-of-the-mill pub because it is so much more than that. It is always rare to find a place in the city that serves good drinks and food at the same time, but Bar Magenta seems to strike a good balance between the two. The bar has a wide selections of beers, the cocktails are delicious and so are the panini. They even have a very decent assortment of aperitivo food. And if all this wasn’t already enough to convince you to try it out, the karaoke and live music nights that they frequently organize supporting local jazz and rock bands should definitely make it worth it.

Bar Magenta is a place that must not be missed out if you are living in Milan or even visiting the city for a short period of time. The place has a great ambiance and you will find a wide assortment of people in the bar starting from businessmen having a pint after work to students, tourists and fashionable models. Also, if you enjoy billiards, they even have an old billiards table that looks as if it’s been sitting there for the last fifty years waiting for you to try your hand at the game.

Bar Magenta
Via Carducci, 13
Timings: Mon-Sun 9.00am – 2.00am
Tel: 02 8053808