As promised, today I have spent the majority of daylight hours assessing the transport options available for the 20 million visitors expected to attend Expo Milano 2015 over the next few months. Milano boasts an impressive array of existing transport infrastructure. From ‘pay as you go’ bicycles and trams, to the heavily used Metro system, along with buses and coaches specifically supplied by leading hotel groups to ferry their guests to and from the 1.1 million square metre Expo site.
There is a palpable feeling of social cohesion at this Expo, rather than the B2B opportunities that I somewhat naively expected. For the first time in its 100 year history this Universal Exposition, as it was once known, is not a mere showcase of human progress and the marvels of the modern age – which, incidentally are wonderfully shown off at various Leonardo Da Vinci interactive sites throughout the city – but rather a platform to promote dialogue and cooperation between nations, organisations and companies in order to improve the quality of life on a global scale and support the environment.
This will be a great platform for UAE Expo 2020 as it seeks to present the three drivers of global development: Sustainability, Mobility and Opportunity via the theme of ‘Connecting Minds, Feeding the Future’.
Attending this Expo in Milano in the evening – the site is open until midnight daily – is a real treat. A feast for the eyes as well as the belly! The international cuisine on offer is nothing short of incredible with the Milanese leading the way in keeping visitors – tourists and locals alike – sustained. I spoke with many Milanese who were attending with their whole families to enjoy the spectacle, and not for the first time, with reduced local rates encouraging wider community participation.
As one navigates the site’s two main thoroughfares, ‘Cardo’ and ‘Decumano’, there is an obvious sense of intricate pre-planning, with an intrinsic part of the long-term preparation being to encourage social interaction. Cardo in particular is a 350 metre long axis showcasing Italy’s top quality food products – from the top rim of the boot to the toe and the islands below. The Decumano on the other hand is about one and a half kilometres long and is lined with all other participating countries and their food and beverage specialties.
This was all topped off with entertainment delights such as a bespoke performance of the world renowned Cirque du Soleil, which certainly rounded off a fairly indulgent evening for Mrs Martin St. Valery and I. The best mode of transport after that was a long walk into the night, before jumping into one of the additional 1,000 smart new city taxis specifically laid on for the Expo. Not only did we gain a number of friends from a diversity of nationalities on this wonderful evening of exploration, but also a deep understanding of the mission of Expo Milano 2015 in ‘Feeding the planet, Energy for Life’.