Next year, from May 1st  to October 31st, the World’s Fair is coming to Milan!

Milan last hosted nearly 110 years ago, and will be putting on quite the spectacle in recognition of receiving the honor of hosting next year’s event. Colloquially known as world’s fairs, past universal expositions have left the world with such landmarks as the Eiffel Tower and Chicago’s world-renowned Field Museum.

Next year’s Expo will cover a total area of nearly 11 million square feet, in the form of an island surrounded by a canal, offering visitors a chance to experience waterside cafes and passeggiatas (strolls) so central to Italian life.

Expanding on the idea of the Mediterranean diet and the fact that people in Italy’s island region of Sardinia are among the longest-lived in the world, the Expo will focus on spreading good eating habits and sustainable development practices.

Taking “feeding the planet, energy for life” as its theme, the Expo will manifest this concept through five interesting areas: food for the body (edibles), food for the eyes (architecture), food for the soul (addressing global food issues), food for the mind (education), and food for the heart (entertainment).

Like past world’s fairs, the event will feature pavilions from over the world, and as of last month, nearly 150 countries had signed up to participate. Award-winning design team Herzog & de Meuron have created a city-like grid for the pavilions, which will function like row houses in a residential city neighborhood, each rising—in many cases with “living” walls—over the expo grounds and often featuring roof decks, as will be the case with the U.S. pavilion, focusing on American food production, with a special section devoted to food trucks.
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Whether you plan it into your budget or not. Whether you bring a big enough suitcase or not. Whether you set aside time in your itinerary or not.

Shopping in Italy is kind of inevitable.

You may end up with a suitcase full of gourmet goodies or wine bottles (here’s how to pack them), housewares or high fashion. But first you have to navigate the cultural nuances of shopping in Italy.

Opening and Closing Times

Shops open on the later side, often around 10 am. Most non-chain shops, boutiques and handicraft shops close for an extended lunch from 12:30 or 1pm to 3 or 4 pm. In small towns, absolutely everything will close.

In major city centers, most things stay upon through the lunch break. Stores, even in smaller towns, are open later to compensate, usually till around 7:30 or 8 pm.

Trying Things On

When you arrive, you must say hello (buongiorno during the day and buona sera in the afternoon) to start a respectful relationship with the shop keeper. Otherwise they will find you very rude.

You, on the other hand, might find it rude when salespeople come into your dressing room while you’re trying things on to help you squeeze into a tight pair of jeans. Salespeople in Italy are very hands on, but it is just because they are passionate about helping you find something you like.

Buying and Exchanging

Commas replace a periods on price tags, and tax is already included. You can’t pay anything that is less than EU10 or 20 Euros with a credit card. Always bring cash with you for the smaller purchases.

Credit cards are not widely accepted, but bring your passport or another photo ID if you plan to make a large purchase with your credit card. Many stores will send you away if you are not able to provide photo ID with your credit card.

Be very confident before you purchase anything, because store exchanges essentially don’t exist.
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Image © Italian Concierge

In Spain, you can get tapas anywhere, but the south is where the movement began and continues today in top form.

Italian aperitivos are similar.

Every city has its bar with small plates of food on the countertop at happy hour, but Venetian cicchetti (often called Venetian tapas or small places) are singular.

Many locals consider the Venetian cicchetti crawl, or giro di ombre (stroll of shades—a local term for small glasses of wine), the last hold out of Venetian cuisine in a city flooded with twice as many tourists as residents each day.

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