In the forefront  August 2010

From the spoon to the city

The Italian Pavilion at the 2010 Shanghai Expo features Italy’s strong suits – art, architecture, design, technology, fashion and crafts, not to mention Italian food and the quality products and food culture that go along with them.

Aceto Parmigiano Prosciutto

Urban wellbeing

“The quality of life in urban areas”: the exhibit organized by the region of Emilia-Romagna at the Shanghai World Expo 2010.

To overcome one of the challenges of the third millennium, that of improving the quality of city life, the region of Emilia-Romagna presents a series of best practices for city management, including city development, environmental programs and social services. Attention is given to innovative ways to construct homes with a focus on new technologies, eco-sustainable materials, and energy saving, as well as the cultural aspects of living well, including food and wine.
Emilia Romagna is known throughout the world as one of the regions in Italy with the greatest number of traditional food products, to the point of being nicknamed Italy’s “food valley.” The three most famous regional products are
Prosciutto di Parma, Parmigiano-Reggiano and traditional Balsamic Vinegar from Modena (all available for purchase at Academia Barilla Shop on line), but the goodness and flavor don’t stop there. The region is also home to Culatello di Zibello, cave-aged cheese from Sogliano al Rubicone, olive oil from Brisighella, Coppa piacentina, cherries from Vignola, mushrooms from Borgotaro and nectarines from Romagna.

Ma. Vi.

The walls of the room have been replaced with wine bottles and pasta. Futuristic video installations about the art of eating are being projected around us. And there is no longer a ceiling: above our heads there is a field of slowly waving wheat, hanging like a single blond cloud.

At the center of this bountiful land, full of exquisite aromas of the best Italian food products, there is a single, majestic olive tree that stirs the fragrant air. In the background are two 18th century still life paintings from Florentine artist Bartolomeo Bimbi: one of a sun of citron and the other a cascade of grape bunches – both reminders that in Italy nature is always related to culture.

We are standing inside “A bite of Italy”, the food hall constructed inside the Italian Pavilion at the 2010 Shanghai World Expo, open through October 31st.

The Pasta Wall, “A bite of Italy” hall, Pavillion Italia, Expo Shanghai 2010

Food is no doubt an essential part of the multi-sensorial experience of the pavilion, which was given the title “The City of Man.” It is also an important element of the theme of the Expo, “Better City, Better Life.” Not only is man what he eats, as Feuerbach said, but so is the city.

Good food leads to a good city: the availability of authentic, high-quality products, respect for the land, cooking that is based on local culture, art and science, history and the future, all contribute to how we live our daily lives. Ultimately, these elements can make our lives rich, full and satisfying. However, food is just one of many things that makes living in Italy a joy.

Let’s not for get the beauty of nature, the artistic masterpieces or architecture, the last of which is represented with a section inside the pavilion that illustrates Italian architectural history, from the works of ancient Rome to the bridge over the Strait of Messina. The pavilion itself, referred to as “tofu,” was designed by a futuristic architect. Giampaolo Imgrighi constructed the structure using eco-sustainable materials that act as “transparent cement,” a product of avant-garde technology.

Italian architecture is also on display at the entrance of the pavilion with a faithful replication of Andrea Palladio’s Olympic Theater in Vicenza, an Unesco site. Brunelleschi’s dome of the Duomo in Florence is also on display. The dome was reconstructed in the main piazza of the pavilion, which can be reached my the many, narrow roads – just like the ones you would find in a small Italian city.

Design has also contributed to Italy’s fame throughout the world. To celebrate this artistic field, there is a very rare 1923 Isotta Fraschini, the most luxurious car ever built, designed by Emilio Castagna and priced at over 5 million dollars. Vibram®FiveFingers® shoes are also on display. Designed to help the biomechanics of the body, these shoes were named one of the best inventions of the year by “Time Magazine” in 2007. Visitors can also get a sneak peek at the latest Ferrari, a hybrid, eco-friendly machine built using advanced technology.

The Wine Wall, “A bite of Italy” hall, Pavillion Italia, Expo Shanghai 2010

To complete the panorama of Italy, together with music, from opera to pop, and fashion, from Prada to Versace, there is Italian craftsmanship. In Italy, you can still find everything from clothing to furniture to embroidery and to instruments, all made by hand. Cooks and pastry chefs can also be placed in the category of craftsmen, because to create a recipe, not only do you need the genius of an artist, but the knowledge of a craftsman.

To read more about the Shanghai World Expo and the Italian Pavilion, visit:  

Mariagrazia Villa

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