Text and photos: Alessandra Litta Modignani
I am a huge fan of day trips. They include all the fun and excitement of a long trip, without the hassle of packing a suitcase and sleeping in a strange bed. As you can imagine, I was thrilled to embark on the ultimate day trip ever: Taking a train from Lugano to the newly opened Expo Milano – and returning that same day.
I felt like on a school trip, sharing my morning train with other folks traveling to the Expo. I chose one of the extra trains that run straight to the expo grounds, so I did not even have to switch at Milano Centrale. My “Expo Train” arrived minutes after the exhibit’s opening, so I did not miss valuable time.
Of course, the best part about traveling by train is that you do not have to worry about traffic conditions and parking. You will arrive at your destination well rested and ready for the long day ahead. You can even have a second breakfast and work a little on the way.
The Swiss Pavilion.
The Expo in Milano is simply unbelievable. It is a kind of amusement park for grown-ups; an endless list of places to visit, pavilions to explore, foreign cultures to meet and flavors to discover.
Each pavilion is original, and most are worth a visit. Overall, I associated most with the Swiss Pavilion. Switzerland interpreted the Expo assignment of “feeding the planet” in the most interesting way. Four towers contain a finite amount of typical Swiss staples: Salt cubes, coffee, dried apple slices and water.
The towers were filled only once, and the goods stored inside will have to last for as long as the Expo lasts. Each visitor is allowed to take a sample, or two. Or really as many samples as they feel like. While everything is free for the taking without restrictions, the exhibit teaches a lesson about the scarcity of food on this planet.
Will the supply last for future Expo visitors? Surprisingly, this pavilion brings out the best and the worst in people: A guide told me about a man who took an entire box of dried apple slices, only to return it a few minutes later. He obviously felt guilty, stating that “people kept taking pictures of me.” It seems like guilt and social media exposure worked as a team to teach this guy some manners and self-control…
I loved the idea of taking as much as you want while caring about others. This, and the fact that there were no strict rules but only your own self-judgment, were clear and simple examples of how Switzerland ticks: There is plenty, but it is up to each individual to make the world a more sustainable place.
San Gottardo Special Exhibit.
The Alps play an important role in providing water for Switzerland and for most of Europe. A spectacular model of the San Gottardo mountains helps to illustrate this. It is carved from granite taken from this region and is surrounded by a complex system of miniature waterfalls, lakes and rivers. Other special exhibits highlight various cites of Switzerland, the first one being Basel, followed by Zürich and Geneva.
The restaurant at the Swiss Pavilion serves an original Swiss cuisine. And you can do the thing that everyone expects from an exhibit about Swiss food: A “make your own chocolate bar” workshop.
Traveling in Style.
As I went back to the train station, I noticed how packed it was. A few trains showed delays, but the train to Switzerland was on time. I leaned back in my seat, kicking off my shoes in pure Swiss fashion. I love this thing about trains: Even when you are most tired and stressed out, a good ride home will let you unwind and relax at the end of the day. You can let the landscape pass by, read a book, listen to some music and think of all the great things you saw at the Expo.
The whole day flew by, one exciting adventure after another. If you are a fan of day trips and trains as much as I am, this is the ideal trip for you!
Alessandra Litta Modignani from travel magazine «Newly Swissed» visited Expo 2015 in Milan for the SBB blog.