Sure, Italy is rich with romantic cities like Florence, Venice and Rome — but its most vibrant might just be Milan. And this is the year for tourists to explore its charms, as it hosts the 2015 World Expo.
Twenty million visitors are expected to visit the city for the Expo, a mammoth event that runs from May through October and involves more than 130 participating nations and organizations sponsoring more than 60 pavilions. The Expo’s theme focuses on food, nutrition and sustainability practices — a fitting choice for a city steeped in Italian culinary traditions. Highlights will include the Future Food District, a space to explore technological advances affecting the global food chain, and the Lake Arena, an Expo centerpiece with a mirrorlike pond and fountain fed by water from the city’s canals.
The Expo coincides with the completion of a number of urban renewal projects that are infusing new life into overlooked quarters, like La Darsena, a formerly dilapidated harbor that will feature tree-lined promenades, bike paths and piazzas. Historical attractions have also been spruced up, from the gleaming facade of the majesticDuomo to the restored canals of the charming Navigli district.
And Milanese restaurants are earning acclaim for their increased focus on diverse regional cuisines from across the Italian peninsula. You can sample everything from farinata and pesto-slathered Genovese specialties at U Barba to traditional Neapolitan pizza at Lievito Madre al Duomo, an outpost of Gino Sorbillo’s famouspizzeria that opened here last fall. New luxury hotels, like the Mandarin Oriental Milan slated to open this year, promise to dress up an already fashionable city that may just have it all.