After the riots…

After the wonderful concert on Thursday evening in Piazza Duomo and a spectacular opening ceremony for Expo on Friday morning, Milan was filled with hope and happiness! There was definitely a sense of triumph and pride that finally Expo was here and a fun party atmosphere!  However this was to be short lived, as Friday afternoon protesters took to the streets of Milan and whilst some were there as peaceful  protesters, others were there to riot and quickly it turned into guerilla warfare.

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The left-wing protesters, who came not only from Italy but other European countries too, included anti-globalization and environmentalist activists as well as students and anti-austerity campaigners. Many of whom see Expo as a symbol of corruption (there have been accusations of Mafia involvement) and waste.

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It is unfortunate they cannot spell ‘system’!

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Whilst I sympathise with some of their ideas, I cannot accept violence as a form of protest and yesterday evening the city was in a state of shock and the sense of hope had been replaced by anger and sadness.  They set fire to cars, broke bank and shop windows and defaced many buildings throughout the city. To make matters worse, when interviewed some of these so called ‘protesters’, seemed unable to string a sentence together to defend or rationalise their actions, but instead stated it had been a great experience.

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‘Against power, against the authorities’

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I saw a few cars which had been damaged during the riot, but by the afternoon most of the debris had been cleared away.

But today, as the sun shone brightly there has been an immense clean-up effort and a new sense that Milan will not be defeated and the people of Milan will take back their city!  In fact a ‘meeting’ in Piazza Cadorna (where a lot of the worst damage happened) has been arranged for Sunday afternoon with the hashtag #NessunotocchiMilano #NoonetouchesMilan. The people of Milan will gather to show support for the city and Expo and help in the cleaning up effort! The facebook group already has more than 9000 likes. There is definitely a sense of community here today and I feel proud and thankful for all the people who are working and volunteering to help revive the city!

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Anna

Music by Moonlight

Last night in Piazza Duomo under the moonlight, I was serenaded by the amazing vocals of Andrea Bocelli and the phenomenal talent of Chinese pianist Lang Lang! Well in reality, me and around 20,000 other people, along with a live TV audience….but still it was amazing!

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Milan really is beautiful at night and the Duomo looked stunning!

It was the opening night of Expo2015 Milan, a six month World Exposition which starts today and runs until the 31st of October. The theme of which is ‘Nutrire il Pianeta, Energia per la Vita’ – ‘Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life’.  The idea is to bring together countries, ideas, people and cultures from all over the world, to talk about sustainability and providing food resources for everyone world wide, working towards an end in famine and poverty.

There has been speculation as to whether a large scale exposition, where millions has been spent in preparation, not only building an enormous exhibition space, but also on improving the city, is the best way to tackle these issues, but if it raises awareness then surely that is helping?  Still, many people are against the Expo and there have been many protests and I’m sure they will continue throughout the next six months.  And of course, this being Italy there has been talk of corruption and all sorts of questions arising, including would they finish preparation in time? But, we will have to wait and see before anyone can decide if Expo will be a success!

I am personally quite excited about it all, there are 148 countries taking part, many who have had their own pavilions built in order to showcase the best their country has to offer.  The UK’s pavilion for example, features bees (and I love honey!) to show how Britain is a ‘hive’ for business, creativity and science! Also lets not forget as an exposition focused on food, all the countries participating will be offering up some of the best of their cuisine and I for one am excited to try some new food and take a culinary trip around the world!  Plus there are hundreds of other events taking place in Milan’s museums and all over the city under the guise of Expo, even though many take place every year, such as one of my favourites Piano City.

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But back to last night and Andrea Bocelli serenading me…oops sorry ‘millions of people’ in Piazza Duomo! He was joined by not only Lang Lang, but also sopranos Diana Damrau and Maria Luigia Borsi, tenor Francesco Meli (wow what a voice!) and baritone Simone Piazzola. They were accompanied by the Chorus and Orchestra of Teatro alla Scala and the Orchestra of the Teatro alla Scala Academy and played homage to Giuseppe Verdi, Giacomo Puccini and Gioacchino Rossini, amongst others. It really was a magical evening and the musical talent of these people is simply outstanding! Andrea Bocelli’s voice is surreal and for me it was a dream to hear him sing live, as I have always admired him!  Plus I had serious piano envy as Lang Lang played the most beautiful Steinway & Sons Grand Piano!  Maybe one day I will get to play one…..

I have put two short videos on my Instagram page of Andrea and Lang Lang, which you can access from the side bar!

Are you planning on visiting Milan for the Expo?  What is your opinion about it all? I would love to hear from you!

Anna