Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, visiting the Expo 2015 site in Milan on Friday 13 March at the head of a delegation of VIPs, praised the progress made and told the workmen they were like the builders of a mediaeval cathedral.
“Expo will be a lay cathedral,” he told them as he shook hands on his walkabout among the pavilions taking shape, “and every Italian family will come to see [your work].” Referring to the three million entrance tickets already sold, he added: “At the end they’ll be more than 10 million.”
This about half the original figure of 20 million plus that was mentioned until about a year ago.
Renzi called the world exposition “a wonderful challenge,” and said the world would see an Italy that not only has a past but also a future: “We’ll show them what Italy can achieve.”
Renzi was accompanied by Agriculture Minister Maurizio Martina, Lombardy regional governor Roberto Maroni, Milan mayor Giuliano Pisapia and industry confederation chief Giorgio Squinzi.
“It’s coming on well,” said Pisapia after visiting the site. “We’ll make it [in time] – we have to make it,” he said, stating that giant steps forward had been made since his last visit at the end of December. “I’m much more optimistic than I was a month ago.” He said the Expo would leave both a material and a moral legacy: the material legacy would be the site which would have a future and would not be abandoned when the gates closed, while the moral one would be a firm commitment to the theme of the Expo – feeding the planet, energy for life – on hunger in the world and the problems of obesity and the fight against waste.
During a meeting in Rome, chair of the national anti-corruption authority Raffaele Cantone said he was satisfied with the way the underworld had been excluded from Expo contracts, praising the Milan prefecture for the “exceptional role” it had played in prevention. There had been problems, he admitted, but in the end the contracts had been secured according to OCSE rules.