Six months with Milan in the world’s spotlight.
After six months of doubts and success and with ticket sales reaching the target of 20 million, Expo Milano 2015 universal exposition closes its gates on Saturday 31 October.
The closing ceremony will take place in the open air theatre from 18.00 to 19.00, chaired by Italy's president Sergio Mattarella, and the baton will pass to Dubai for the next universal exposition in 2020. The programme for the closing ceremony is being guarded like a state secret.
Visitors will be not admitted after 17.00 but those who do not make it will be able to follow the evening on RAI 1 from 17.00 to 20.00 and on radio by Radio 24 from 18.00 to 20.00.
From the start, observers were sceptical of the 20 million target for ticket sales, even Italy's prime minister Matteo Renzi talked of only 10 million tickets. But the 20-millionth visitor pushed through the turnstile early October, to the satisfaction of commissioner Giuseppe Sala.
After a difficult start and the uncovering of numerous links between contractors and organised crime the universal Expo Milano 2015 opened on time on 1 May. Italy’s police forces – and especially the work of the anti-corruption authority ANAC – ensured that the criminal gangs were foiled.
Although sales were slow in the early months, they picked up later as positive reports of the Expo experience began to circulate, resulting in long queues both at the entrance and at the most attractive pavilions.
Personal visits by Michelle Obama and Ban Ki-Moon, as well as the video message by Pope Francis, also played a part in focusing attention on Expo Milano 2015 and its contemporary theme of Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life.
When Expo Milano 2015 shuts, some pavilions will remain, including the Italy pavilion with its Tree of Life and Pavilion Zero.
Others will be recycled. The Norman Foster-designed United Arab Emirates pavilion will be re-erected in Masdar City in Abu Dhabi. Switzerland’s four silos will be taken home to become greenhouses, while the 12,000 trees on the Austrian patch will be replanted in Tyrol. Monaco’s pavilion will be gifted to Burkina Faso to house a Red Cross operations centre.
The prize-winning “hive” of the United Kingdom will be remounted in Britain as “land art”.
The Coca Cola site will be donated to the City of Milan to make a basketball hall.
However many others will be demolished or disassembled and sold as scrap material. The final future use of the grounds will be decided by June 2016.
Italy will have benefited from increases in overseas contract and host city Milan has also gained from the public works triggered by Expo Milano 2015: the renovation of the Darsena area, the opening of new metro stations, the re-vamping of Malpensa airport and several news museums and cultural centres.
Some 10,000 start-ups are reported to have been launched as a direct result of Expo, while €2.3 billion is the estimate of what was spent by Italian visitors alone, including hotel stays and cash spent outside Expo itself.
The recent statement by ANAC anti-corruption chairman Raffaelle Cantone that Milan has regained its position of “moral capital” of Italy has gone some way toward repairing the city’s wounded pride since it became identified with the epicentre of the Tangentopoli scandal in 1992.